Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has arrested eight people as part of an operation targeting a suspected network of cash couriers responsible for laundering more than £50 million (Dh258,430.51) in criminal profits on flights to Dubai from Heathrow or Manchester in the United Kingdom (UK).
The NCA said the arrests were made after officers carried out the raids at locations in London, Surrey, West Yorkshire, and Greater Manchester earlier this week.
The three men and five women arrested are alleged to be cash couriers responsible for hiding large amounts of cash in luggage on commercial flights to Dubai from Heathrow or Manchester airports. On each occasion, they flew out with large numbers of checked-in baggage and returned days later with fewer cases.
The NCA said its investigation began after the seizure of around £1.9 million (m) (Dh979m) from outbound passenger Tara Hanlon, 30, from Leeds, at Heathrow in October 2020.
Later, she was charged with money laundering and is awaiting trial.
Around a month later Zdenek Kamaryt, 38, from Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Republic, was intercepted as he attempted to board a flight from Heathrow to Dubai. The authorities found cash worth £1.3m (Dh6.70m) in his bags, with investigators identifying he had made two previous trips in July and August.
Kamaryt pleaded guilty to money laundering offences and was given a two-year jail sentence in March 2021.
Ian Truby, an NCA senior investigating officer, said: “Cash is the lifeblood of organised crime. Organised crime groups need to launder it so they invest it in further criminality. Our investigation has identified millions of pounds of what we suspect are criminal profits being flown out of the UK to be laundered”.
He added: “This investigation has prevented that from happening on a number of occasions, but we have been able to identify previous trips by individuals we believe were carrying money.” he added.
The NCA said officers had seen huge shipments of cash, with couriers carrying multiple suitcases, with up to half a million pounds in each case and the couriers would likely have been paid several thousand pounds themselves.
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