Preston men jailed over Â£2m drugs money laundering
Two Preston men have been jailed over their involvement in international drugs money laundering worth over Â£2m.
Salim Omer, 44, of Frenchwood Avenue, Preston, was found guilty after a trial and was jailed for six years.
Ismail Valli, of Holmerook Road, Preston, pleaded guilty to money laundering and was jailed for three years, eight months.
Two other men, Jamie Pleavin, of Wharton Close, Warrington, pleaded guilty to money laundering and was jailed for three years, four months. Hasan Hashimi, of Holtdale View, Leeds, was found guilty of two charges of money laundering and was jailed for four years.
Leeds Crown Court heard the gang of four were caught following a raid by police officers at a house in Leeds as one of the men was carrying a holdall stuffed with £100,000 in cash.
The defendants were part of a sophisticated criminal enterprise known as ‘cuckoo smurfing’, which involves helping serious professional criminals to convert drug money into legitimate assets.
Andrew Semple, prosecuting, said arrangements were made to collect large volumes of bank notes from drug dealers across the north of England. Gang members then delivered the cash to a house on Holtdale View, Holt Park, Leeds, where arrangements were made to send the money on to convert into legitimate assets. Mobile phones seized during the police operation showed the men had been in touch with contacts in Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
The scam also involved the misuse of the Islamic monetary system.
Both Omer and Valli were linked to the operation after mobile phones were analysed.
The court heard Omer was close to the centre of the money laundering operation and has served a previous prison sentence for a similar offence in 2005. Valli was closely involved in arranging mobile phone contact with those involved abroad.
Jailing the men, judge Neil Clark said: “This involved professional, high level money laundering on an international scale. “It is inevitably very serious. Not only does it allow those involved in commercial drug dealing to hide their profits, it allows criminal money to circulate around the world and perpetuate other forms of crime.”