A former bank manager who became a gangster’s moll and lived a ‘luxurious lifestyle’ on the back of a £24,000-a-month drugs empire was placed behind bars.
Szenm Asghar, 37, abandoned a career in corporate banking with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and NatWest to run the ‘Sniper’ drugs line with her jobless husband Rashid Hussain, 35.
The couple’s ‘illicit enterprise’ flooded the streets of Rochdale with cocaine and heroin and allowed them to live a ‘luxurious lifestyle,’ Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said.
Officers seized more than £20,000 in cash, designer clothes worth almost £18,000, and a number of Rolex watches from their marital home. The couple even paid £3,000 for two cats.
Asghar and Hussain were arrested after a police raid found various paraphernalia – such as digital scales, packaging and drug debtor lists – in their luxury apartment in a £3.1million development in Bamford.
Hussain was remanded in custody, but Asghar was released on bail and carried on dealing.
Asghar has since pleaded guilty to participating in the activities of an organised crime group, two counts of possession of criminal property and two counts of possession of class A drugs with intent to supply.
Hussain pleaded guilty to possessing criminal property, and two counts of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs.
At Manchester Crown Court on Friday, Asghar was jailed for three years and four months and Hussain was jailed for seven and a half years.
Szenm Asghar, 37, (left) and her partner Rashid Hussain, 35, (right) were convicted of one count of possessing criminal property and two counts of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs
Police first raided the couple’s home on Glen Morag Gardens, Bamford, in December last year.
They were caught out as part of a GMP investigation into ‘turf wars’ between rival drugs gangs in Rochdale.
Hussain was heard on voice notes recovered by police bragging about his income.
A phone video showed him clutching giant wads of cash and bragging: ‘This money has made me’ as a friend said: ‘Oh Yeah! Alright!’
During the exchange with the unknown man, Hussain, in an apparent reference to the hugely successful Floyd Mayweather, a boxer who was once the world’s highest paid athlete, said: ‘They’ll call me money f***ing Rash won’t they? Like money Mayweather.’
Over £20,000 in cash was found hidden underneath beds in the couple’s home, with some brazenly on display in the front room.
Inquiries revealed the couple received at least £34,000 in income from their racket over one six week period.
Numerous mobile phones were also seized during the raid. The devices were found to contain ‘marketing’ text messages sent out in bulk to their vulnerable customers, advertising their stock as well as voice notes of Hussain bragging about his income.
Police say the couple used a total of 10 mobile phones to sell the drugs across the area using the tagline ‘Sniper Line Active – Best Gear in Town.’
Asghar (pictured) abandoned a career in corporate banking with the RBS and NatWest to live a designer lifestyle, spending tens of thousands of pounds on designer clothes, cars and pets, with the purchase of their two cats for £3,000
She and her jobless partner Hussain (left) funded their expensive lifestyle after setting up their so-called ‘Sniper’ drugs hotline which preyed on addicts in Rochdale, Greater Manchester. A phone video (right) showed Hussain clutching giant wads of cash and bragging: ‘This money has made me’ as a friend said: ‘Oh Yeah! Alright!’
The couple splashed out on designer Rolex watches, clothing and even two pedigree cats after setting up their so-called ‘Sniper’ drugs hotline
When Hussain was arrested and remanded in custody last December, Asghar was bailed and moved back to her hometown of Bury where she continued to run the drugs line, keeping her own lucrative revenue stream active after becoming used to her designer lifestyle.
A second raid was executed at the home of Asghar in March 2022, where officers again discovered over £15,000 in cash, a total of 86g of heroin and crack cocaine, as well as 1kg of the painkiller ‘Phenacetin’, used to mix into drugs to increase volume.
In all detectives found 275 wraps of heroin and 174 wraps of cocaine, as well as £2,390 in cash in an envelope, £2,595 and almost £10,000 stashed inside two scarves, and a further £475.
Accounting notes found in the address showed that in a seven day period, £12,705 cash was received with another £7,755 received the following week.
Another note stated ‘Paid 14 thousand cash on 28th September 2021, remaining balance is £11,000 by the end of 31st October 2021 to be paid.’
Asghar told police said she had been in a relationship with Hussain for two years and confirmed she had previously worked for the DWP and in corporate banking.
She said she knew Hussain was unemployed and claiming benefits but ‘didn’t know where he got his money from’.
She later said she had received threats and acted out of ‘misguided loyalty’ to Hussain.
In all detectives found 275 wraps of heroin and 174 wraps of cocaine, as well as £2,390 in cash in an envelope, £2,595 and almost £10,000 stashed inside two scarves, and a further £475
Hussain and his partner Asghar used the handle ‘Sniper’ to peddle their drugs across Rochdale
Sentencing, Judge Nicholas Dean KC told the couple: ‘You, Rashid Hussain, are a long standing dealer in class A drugs.
‘It seems to me for a period of approximately 15 years you have been engaged in dealing in heroin and cocaine as a business. You, to a certain extent, enjoyed a reasonable lifestyle as a consequence of your dealing in drugs.
‘You, Ms Asghar, were the wife of Rashid Hussain. I accept that to a not insignificant extent you were influenced by your husband, but you knew the type of man he was.’
After the hearing, Detective Sergeant Gabe Gibson, of Rochdale’s Challenger Unit, said: ‘Hussain and his partner Asghar used the handle ‘Sniper’ to peddle their drugs across Rochdale. However, in this case, they shot themselves in the foot by leaving a wealth of evidence to be recovered from their home addresses.
‘Asghar was seemingly immersed into Hussain’s drug dealing world, but having enjoyed the proceeds of crime, wanted more.
‘Asghar clearly benefited from this illicit enterprise, possessing large amounts of cash, designer goods, taking over the drugs business herself after Hussain was remanded in custody, enabling her lifestyle to be maintained.
‘People like Hussain and Asghar are not wanted on the streets of Rochdale, nor are other familiar individuals, who will face a similar fate when caught. Our work in Rochdale continues, and rest assured we will deliver on our commitment to the community to relentlessly pursue those engaged in drugs trafficking.’
According to her LinkedIn profile, Asghar who brags of being ‘highly conscientious and enthusiastic’ in her work graduated in business finance at Manchester Metropolitan University before working as a Portfolio Manager in Commercial and Corporate banking for first the NatWest then RBS.