Members of the criminal network smuggled in excess of GBP 42 mn in cash out of the UK
As many as 16 people, including a number of Indian-origin men and women, have been convicted following a major investigation into a West London-based organized crime group involved in international money laundering and people smuggling. According to officials of the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA) on Tuesday, the members of the criminal network smuggled in excess of GBP 42 million in cash out of the UK, making hundreds of trips to Dubai between 2017 and 2019. NCA investigators believe the money was profit from the sale of banned “Class A” drugs and organized immigration crime.
“This has been a long and complex investigation into an organized crime group involved in money laundering on a commercial scale and organized immigration crime,” said NCA senior investigating officer Chris Hill.
“Over a two-year period, working together with partners in the UK and abroad, NCA investigators were able to uncover the evidence to secure these convictions. This case demonstrates the continued commitment by the NCA to protect the public and target the criminal networks involved in both people smuggling and money laundering,” he said. “We will continue to use the full range of tactics at our disposal to disrupt and dismantle them,” he added.
The individuals arrested and charged as part of the operation were prosecuted in two trials at Croydon Crown Court in south London starting in January this year. In the first trial, “ringleader” Charan Singh, Valjeet Singh, Jasbir Singh Kapoor, and Jasbir Singh Dhal were found guilty of conspiring to remove criminal property or money laundering. While Swander Singh Dhal was found guilty of conspiring to remove criminal property and also conspiring to facilitate a breach of immigration law; Diljan Singh Malhotra was found guilty of conspiring to facilitate a breach of immigration law. All six, in their 30s and 40s, have been remanded in judicial custody pending their sentencing in September.
In the second trial, Amarjeet Alabadis, Jaginder Kapoor, Jackdar Kapoor, Manmon Singh Kapur, Pinky Kapur, and Jasbeer Singh Malhotra were convicted of removing criminal property and bailed pending sentencing in four months’ time.
The NCA said around GBP 1.5 million was seized from couriers leaving the UK but flight analysis, evidence from cash declarations in Dubai, and other material seized by the NCA showed the group had succeeded in transporting far more. As part of the investigation, NCA officers also uncovered a plot involving members of the criminal gang to smuggle 17 migrants, including five children and a pregnant woman, into the UK in the back of a van carrying tyres in 2019.
The van was intercepted by Dutch police, who were working with the NCA before it could reach a ferry at the Hook of Holland. In November 2019, following weeks of surveillance, communications, and flight data analysis, NCA officers moved in to make arrests. “Gang ringleader Charan Singh, 44, from Hounslow, was among those detained in a series of early morning raids across west London,” the NCA said.
Investigators were able to prove that Singh, who was formerly resident in the UAE, paid for flights to Dubai for other members of the network so they could carry cash. He also kept a ledger showing how much had been transported and when. It showed that at least 58 trips to Dubai were made by Singh and his couriers during 2017 alone. Midway through the second trial, six of the accused changed their plea to guilty in relation to money laundering offences and as a result, reporting restrictions on the case were lifted last week.
[with PTI inputs]
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