The gang of five from Oldham shipped over 400kg skunk inside boxes of grated cheese from the Netherlands into Manchester.

It is estimated that the drugs were worth over £4 million on the street.

The operation was organised in a whatsapp group titled Road Trip and was administered by gangsters from Liverpool.

Manchester Crown Court was told how their plan was foiled when the company at the delivery address did not accept the delivery, so the Lorry driver called police.

Prosecutor William Blake said: Muhammad Kashmiri, 29, was the organiser of the shipment.

Kashmiri flew to Netherlands to make the necessary arrangements for the smooth shipment of the drugs. He was accompanied by Hamza Awan, 27, and Wqhar Ashraf, 28.

They then went to Morocco to make the payment for the drugs.

But on return their ferry was delayed and they missed their flight.

They had to include Urfan Asghar in the mission for the collection of the delivery at a wholesaler in Openshaw.

The wholesalers declined to collect the shipment as it was not ordered by them.

Urfan did not say anything and left which made the driver suspicious and rang the police.

Police found 406Kg of drugs under a layer of grated cheese. The drugs were worth around £4 million on the streets.

The organiser Kashmiri arrived in Manchester that same day and went straight to the wholesalers only to find police there.

Manchester Crown Court was told how the gang was so scared from the gangsters in Liverpool as they filmed police on their phone to show it to them and prove they were saying the truth and had not stolen the drugs.

All five were arrested and charged with conspiracy to evade prohibition of controlled drugs, all five pleaded not guilty at the lengthy trial but were proven guilty.

Muhammad Kashmiri and Urfan Asghar of Oldham were both sentenced to jail for 8 years.

Waqhar Ashraf of Oldham was sentenced to jail for 5 years and 6 months.

Hamza Arif Awan of Oldham was put behind bars for 3 years and six months.

Zain Shoaib of Oldham was sentenced to jail for 2 years and six months.

Mitigating for Kashmiri, Dominic D’Souza said his client was a responsible father and husband and had always contributed to the community.

Sentencing, Judge Martin Steiger QC said Kashmiri, who has a fraud conviction, had acted ‘deviously and dishonestly’ in the past.

But he added: “It is a tragedy a man who has talent and intelligence should become involved in criminal activity like this.”

Passing sentence, Judge Martin Steiger QC said: “It was only by chance that the police became involved, when the lorry driver who had been unwittingly carrying the load called them and it was discovered. This was a professional and skillful importation achieved with guile.”

Speaking after sentence, Jon Hughes, of the National Crime Agency, said there had been a ‘determined and concerted attempt’ to import a ‘huge amount’ of drugs.

“Drug smuggling fuels other types of serious and organised crime which damages communities and wrecks lives,” he added.

“The NCA and our partners will not pause in our fight to catch men like these and bring them to justice.”