The gym manager became a drug dealer after losing his job during the Covid lockdown

Nabeel Issawi worked as a gym manager but lost his job during the first lockdown. He then turned to drug trafficking and was sentenced to 13 years in prison for supplying more than 60 kilos of cocaine

Nabeel Issawi
Nabeel Issawi

A gym boss turned drug dealer after losing his job during lockdown.

Nabeel Issawi, 33, worked as a gym manager but by the time Covid hit Britain he was “stranded” with no way of earning anything.

During the height of the pandemic, Warton’s ex-convict, Preston, began meddling in the drug trade, sealing up vast quantities of cocaine. The Manchester Evening News reported .

He has been linked to the supply of more than 60 kilos of cocaine between April and June 2020 and has now been sentenced to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

Manchester Crown Court heard how Issawi was “foolishly” enticed into drug dealing.

Manchester Crown Court


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His crimes were exposed in the EncroChat encrypted network law enforcement hack.

Prosecutors said he used the “Famous one is back” EncroChat handle and was in touch with another user named “Greymoon.”

The couple discussed buying and reselling cocaine by the kilo, prosecutor Duncan Wilcock said.

But Issawi’s lawyer claimed the defendant made “very little money” selling drugs.

This was not the first time Issawi had trafficked drugs, and back in 2014 he was sentenced to more than six years in prison for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

During his detention he was involved in the gym, then continued and later worked as an instructor after his release, the court was told.

Paul Hodgkinson, the defendant’s attorney, said Issawi got the job as a gym manager and was enrolling in a sports science degree.

He said: “This defendant was trying to find a way out. Things were going well and lockdown ensued.

“It coincides around three weeks into lockdown when the gyms closed and he actually lost his job. He was then stranded with no money, no job, no way to make money.

“Unfortunately, he was persuaded by others to take part in this operation. It was used in this scenario.”

Judge Anthony Cross, QC, told Issawi: “It is rare, extremely rare, for an accused to plead guilty to such an offense at such a high level.

“You were part of this operation as a leading role in the organized crime group. It is clear that you had a high level of knowledge and a complete understanding of the organizational side.

“You were able to take orders and take decisions without the need for a permit and the evidence suggests you absolutely understood the dynamics of the drug space in which you worked.

“You have an unfortunate record, including a conspiracy to supply where you were imprisoned for 81 months.

“You tried to try, but you failed and reverted to your old ways. You have to be punished for that.

“The amount affected was over 60 kilos. This was a bold request and shows your remorse and desire to leave this life of crime behind.”

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