Two Notts criminals who played a part in a mammoth drugs operation that made £400,000 a day have been jailed.
Vast amounts of high purity cocaine, as well as thousands of pounds in cash, were moved around the country in just over a year that the gang operated in.
The 21-strong group used encrypted phones in the hope that the operation – which involved importing multiple kilos of the drug from Dubai – would not be discovered.
The gang’s total earnings over the 408-day conspiracy is estimated to have been a staggering £165 million.
Among the defendants sentenced yesterday (January 7) were Nottinghamshire criminals Michael Karim and Kelly Williamson, who were described as “wholesale customers” in the conspiracy.
Williamson, 57, of Mansfield Road, Papplewick, was jailed for five years and three months after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Karim, 36, of Standard Hill, Nottingham, was jailed for 10 years after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine; conspiracy to conceal, disguise, convert or transfer criminal property; possession of false identity documents; and possession of a smoke grenade.
Prosecutors told the jury Karim – a married father-of-two – was responsible for at least 9kg of high purity cocaine and that a police search of his flat found a deactivated pump action shotgun, numerous weighing scales with powder on, jewellery worth upwards of £250,000 and an illegal military issue smoke grenade. Six fake identification cards were also found in his flat.
Meanwhile Williamson, also a father-of-two, was found to have received two packages of high purity cocaine after being placed under police surveillance.
The drugs gang was led by Paldip Mahngar, who organised in the region of 100kg of high-purity cocaine to be moved all over the country.
The 45-year-old used an encrypted EncroChat phone to order multiple kilos of the drug from contacts in Dubai – which was then distributed across the country by Jaswant Kajla.
From his home in Bluebird Drive, Coventry, Kajla organised the logistics of moving the drugs, along with the collecting of money from the gang’s customers.
The 41-year-old ensured that those delivering the cocaine had well-rehearsed cover stories as couriers who could deny their knowledge of the drugs they were delivering.
The money collected was dealt with by Manraj Johal – the gang’s accountant. The 32-year-old kept detailed Excel spreadsheets that showed the incomings, outgoings, and expenses of the gang.
Using another encrypted phone Johal, of Turnpike Drive, Luton, would then contact the upstream suppliers of the drugs to update them about how much money was being made.
The gang had two “offices” in Luton and Derby where millions of pounds flowed through from their cocaine sales – with an estimated £18.6m being made by the gang between 16 March and 30 April 2020, a daily total of £400,000 which officers used to estimate the gang’s total earnings over the 408-day conspiracy to be a staggering £165,208,208.
Detective Chief Inspector Tim Walters, who lead the investigation by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU), said: “This was a massive undertaking by a very skilled and determined investigation team to dismantle a gang which was responsible for the industrial scale wholesale supply of cocaine across the country, along with the movement of millions of pounds in criminal cash each week.
“While the gang’s use of a ‘token’ system to monitor their cash flow and the encrypted Encrochat handsets to coordinate their business showed a level of sophistication, they merely acted as a breadcrumb trail for us to see the scale of the ‘business’, and identify each member of the organised crime group, as well as every sale they had made.
“The hefty sentences given today are not only a testament to an impressive regional investigation, but also to the power of collaborative law enforcement on a national and international scale.
“And we’ve not finished yet. Through the Proceeds of Crime Act we will now seek to identify and seize any assets amounted from the running of this illicit enterprise, to ensure those responsible are not only stripped of their freedom, but also of any profits made through their criminal activities.”
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