In the Media

Refugee behind heroin trade jailed for 22 years

PUBLISHED May 16, 2006

A TURKISH asylum-seeker who was one of the biggest and most dangerous drug barons in Europe was jailed for 22 years yesterday as the judge recommended that he be deported at the end of his sentence.

Abdullah Baybasin, who is said to have been responsible for 90 per cent of the heroin in Britain, ran an extortion racket in North London, terrifying Turkish and Kurdish businessmen with extreme violence, using petrol bombs, guns and machetes. 
The mafia boss, who uses a wheelchair after having been shot, waved to supporters as the judge, Gregory Stone, QC, handed down his sentence after a long trial in which Baybasin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obtain money with menaces.

Armed police surrounded the courtroom at Woolwich Crown Court as the judge accused the gang leader, who has been in Britain since 1997, of being a godfather of crime.

Jailing him for the supply of 2.5kg (5.5lb) of heroin, he said: ?You will be sentenced for the offences of which you were convicted by a jury and not for your reputation as one of the largest and most dangerous drug barons in Europe.

?However, I should have regard to your true role in this drugs ring and your true position in the drugs hierarchy when committing these offences. You were a major player at the very highest level in the heroin trade, which does so much pernicious harm both to indi-viduals and to our society while enriching those engaged in the trade such as you.?

Turning to a charge of conspiracy to blackmail and to pervert the course of justice, he said: ?This conspiracy was one of the most serious forms of blackmail. You set yourself up as a leader of a large gang of thugs. To put it bluntly, you set yourself up as a godfather and set about collecting money from the Turkish and Kurdish community . . . and you did that by the application of violence, threats of violence and by fostering a well-founded reputation for serious violence.

?You ran a protection racket which plainly involved extorting money by threats of extreme and actual violence.

?You are, in truth, a very dangerous criminal.?

Baybasin first came to Britain in 1997 and claimed asylum. While his application was being considered, he was sentenced to three years for possession of a firearm and ammunition ? although this was reduced to one year.

He was refused asylum but won his appeal and it is believed that the Home Office was appealing against his victory when he was arrested.

Judge Stone told him: ?I am told that the necessary documents have been served on you giving me the power to recommend your deportation. Your presence is of clear detriment to the UK and I recommend that you be deported.?

After the case, Detective Sergeant David Malcolm, who led the investigation, said that the conviction was a ?major success against the head of a large criminal organisation?.

Baybasin, whose family comes from a Kurdish area of southeast Turkey, ran his organisation from an office in a shop in Haringey, North London, which he would visit once or twice a week to give orders.

A camera and microphones inserted by the National Crime Squad recorded discussions between him and his accomplices for nearly eight months. The cameras were rolling when an errant member of the gang was stripped, beaten and threatened with the removal of his privates with a machete.

Baybasin?s brother, Huseyin, known as the Emperor, was the head of the gang until he was jailed for 20 years by a Dutch court for conspiracy to murder and drug dealing.

In 2002, the gang openly clashed with supporters of the Kurdish political party, PKK, on the streets around Green Lanes, North London. One man was stabbed to death in the fighting.

Scotland Yard was so concerned about the gang that armed patrols were put on the streets. Seven members of Baybasin?s gang have been jailed for between five and twelve years. Law enforcement agencies have been trying for years to stop the group?s activities.