Gym boss who lost his job in lockdown was tempted into the life of crime by selling cocaine from the Preston house

A gym boss who lost his job to coronavirus and was tempted into a life of crime has been arrested at a house in Preston.

Nabeel Issawi found himself ‘stranded’ with no ability to earn money and was ‘madly’ tempted to commit a serious crime, Manchester Crown Court heard this week. A law enforcement hack of the secretive and highly encrypted EncroChat network revealed that Issawi, 33, was then involved in trafficking huge amounts of drugs, MEN reports.

In 2014, Issawi was jailed for more than six years for conspiring to supply Class A drugs. He was involved with the gymnasium at HMP Kirkham and after being released worked as a gym instructor, the report said. court.

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The 33-year-old man was linked to the supply of more than 60 kilos of cocaine, between April and June 2020 at the height of the pandemic. Prosecutors said Issawi used the EncroChat handle “Famous one is back” and was in contact with another user called “Greymoon”.

The couple talked about buying pounds of cocaine and reselling it, prosecutor Duncan Wilcock said. But Issawi’s lawyer said the defendant earned “very little money” from his involvement in the drug trade.

“This defendant was arrested in a two-on-two, back-to-back in Preston,” Paul Hodgkinson said. “It’s not his house, he was renting.”

Mr Hodgkinson said Issawi got a job as a gymnasium manager and was enrolling in a sports science degree. “This defendant tried to get away with it,” he said. “Things were going well and the lockdown happened.”

Issawi, of Poplar Avenue, Warton, was jailed for 13 years after pleading guilty to conspiring to supply Class A drugs.

“It is rare, extremely rare, for a defendant involved at such a high level to indicate a guilty plea for such an offence,” Judge Anthony Cross QC told Issawi.

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