Sixteen people, including an Indian-origin “ringleader”, part of a west London-based organised crime group involved in international money laundering and people smuggling, were handed jail sentences totalling more than 70 years on Friday.
The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), which led the investigation leading to the conviction of the Charan Singh-led gang in May, believes they were likely to have smuggled around GBP 70 million in cash out of the UK, making hundreds of trips to Dubai, UAE, between 2017 and 2019.
NCA officers believe the money was profit from the sale of Class A illegal drugs and organised immigration crime.
“Charan Singh and his network thought they were untouchable, moving tens of millions of pounds of criminal cash out of the UK,” said Chris Hill, NCA Senior Investigating Officer.
“The NCA mounted a long and complex investigation into their activities, and over a two-year period, we were able to evidence their involvement in money laundering and organised immigration crime. The sentences handed down today mark the culmination of that investigation and years of work by our officers. We remain determined to protect the public and target criminal networks operated by those like Charan Singh, and we will use the full range of tactics at our disposal to disrupt and dismantle them,” he said.
Following a three-day sentencing hearing at Croydon Crown Court, which concluded on Friday, Charan Singh was handed a 12-and-a-half-year jail term. His “right-hand man” Valjeet Singh, got 11 years, while “trusted lieutenant”, Swander Singh Dhal, got 10 years for money laundering and an additional five years for people smuggling.
The other members of the crime group, including Amarjeet Alabadis, Jaginder Kapoor, Jackdar Kapoor, Manmon Singh Kapur, Pinky Kapur and Jasbeer Singh Malhotra, were given sentences ranging between nine years and 11 months.
The individuals arrested and charged as part of the NCA operation were prosecuted in two trials at Croydon Crown Court in south London starting in January this year.
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 after the gang’s conviction.
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 in 2017 alone.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)