First jailing after drug crackdown

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A MARRIED father has become the first drug dealer to be sentenced after a major drugs crackdown in Halifax.

Tahir Taj was caught twice during Operation Irondale and now the 29-year-old is in jail for 44 months.

Bradford Crown Court how Taj, of Grosvenor Terrace, Halifax, was driving a Range Rover last September when his passenger supplied heroin to an undercover police officer in the New Bond Street area.

Prosecutor Jonathan Sharp said at the time of the drugs deal Taj’s wife and one of his children were in the rear of the Range Rover.

Judge Peter Benson was told that in August 2009 Taj was released from a five-and-a-half year prison term for rape and assault and was on licence while committing the drugs offences.

Mr Sharp said during the second phase of Operation Irondale Taj was again involved in supplying heroin and crack cocaine to undercover officers five times.

Twice Taj arrived in a Subaru Impreza with a personalised number plate ‘G8 GGG’.

Mr Sharp said Taj’s role was one step up from a street dealer.

He described how during one deal the defendant measured out by eye the exact amount for a wrap of crack cocaine.

Taj, whose first drugs offence was committed when he was just 15, pleaded guilty to all matters when he made his first appearance before Calderdale magistrates.

His cases were sent to the crown court for sentence and yesterday Judge Benson imposed the jail term.

Taj’s lawyer Ann-Marie Hutton said there was little mitigation for the offences.

She said Taj had been addicted to cannabis and cocaine for a number of years and he was paid in drugs for his involvement in the offences.

“This is a case brought as part of Operation Irondale and you are, I think, the first of the defendants to be sentenced for that,” said Judge Benson.

“I’m told by Mr Sharp that you are one step up from a normal street dealer and clearly you had a stock of drugs from which to deal and you were readily on the scene when this number was called.

“You realistically recognise that this must be a substantial sentence of imprisonment.”

The judge said he took account of Taj’s family responsibilities, which included the care of two children and a step-daughter, but he noted that he had permitted his car to be used for drug dealing when his wife and one child were in the back.

“One hopes that you seize the opportunities given in prison to address your drug-taking behaviour,” added Judge Benson

Detective Inspector Gary Stephenson from Calderdale CID said: “This is the start of the results of Operation Irondale coming through.

“The sentence clearly reflects the seriousness of dealing drugs and shows that people dealing drugs on the streets of Calder-dale risk a custodial sentence.”