Drug lord who made $785K ordered to pay back only $1

Stephen Nartey January 19, 2024
Tareanio Blake. Photo: GMP

Gun-running crime boss Tareanio Blake, 32, has been ordered to pay back only £1 ($1) after an investigation into his illicit gains. Blake, described as a ‘leading light’ in a Cheetham Hill-based gang involved in drug and firearm trafficking, was linked to substantial quantities of cocaine and heroin, along with the supply of ten firearms.

His former girlfriend, Holly Caldwell, was involved as a courier for the gang. During the peak of the COVID-19 lockdown, she drove to Luton carrying six Grand Power guns and 180 rounds of ammunition for a handover. Caldwell asserted that she was unaware she was transporting weapons for criminal purposes, believing instead that the cargo consisted of drugs, according to Daily Mail.

During her 2022 sentencing hearing, Caldwell’s barrister argued that she was a “pawn in [Tareanio] Blake’s enterprise.” However, Caldwell, along with Blake and Mohammed Shahid, were sentenced for their roles in a gang involved in firearms and drug trafficking. Caldwell, arrested on suspicion of firearms offenses, expressed disbelief at Blake for putting her in that situation.

Blake received a 19-year sentence, Shahid 12 years and nine months, and Caldwell seven years. The case returned to Manchester Crown Court on Thursday for further proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Following an investigation, Blake and Shahid were found to have benefited from crime amounting to £617,623 and £590,895, respectively.

However, Blake lacked recoverable assets for restitution, leading to an order to pay back a nominal £1. In contrast, Shahid, who possessed assets totaling £23,831, including Bitcoin, was instructed to repay that amount within three months. Failure to comply could result in an additional year being added to Shahid’s sentence.

Blake and Shahid were revealed as criminals through law enforcement’s hacking of the EncroChat communications network. During their sentencing hearing, Judge Patrick Field KC characterized them as “leading lights” in criminal activities, emphasizing that their messages indicated they saw their illicit enterprise as a means to secure long-term financial stability.

In Caldwell’s sentencing, the court learned that she met Blake while working as a hostess in a nightclub. Following Blake’s persistent pursuit, she eventually agreed to start a relationship with him. Caldwell’s engagement in criminal activities stemmed from her “desire to please and assist” her partner, Blake, with whom she had fallen in love and envisioned a future involving marriage and children, according to her barrister David Bentley.

Blake, residing on Peakdale Avenue in Crumpsall, was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs and conspiring to sell or transfer firearms. Similarly, Shahid, also residing on Peakdale Avenue, Crumpsall, pleaded guilty to the same offenses.

Blake was found guilty of conspiring to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life. Caldwell, residing on King Edward Road in St Helens, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs and possession of a prohibited weapon.

Another defendant, Ali Hamza, aged 25 and residing on Whiston Road in Crumpsall, was sentenced to nine years for conspiring to supply cocaine and heroin and for possession of two prohibited weapons.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: January 19, 2024


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