Four family members of a Luton-based crime network and their accomplice were jailed for a total of 67 years yesterday.
Mohammed Habib, 39, of Marlborough Road, Luton, was found guilty of supplying class A drugs and money laundering on Friday following a five week trial at Maidstone Crown Court.
His brother, Mohammed Khalil, 49, of Tewkesbury Road, Elstow, Bedford, was found guilty of money laundering.
Khalil was tried in his absence after absconding from bail and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
They were sentenced alongside their nephews Yasdani Ghulam, 32, of Kirby Drive, Luton, and Rabani Ghulam, 31, of Beresford Road, Luton, who both pleaded guilty to money laundering offences.
A fifth man, Muhammed Samar, 53, of Karachi in Pakistan, was also found guilty of importing and supplying class A drugs and money laundering following a trial.
The men were regarded as ‘top of the tree’ by investigators and 18 people linked to their activities have already been sentenced to a total of 217 years in prison.
Mike Hulett from the National Crime Agency said: “This criminal group was involved in the smuggling and supply of drugs over a number of years.
“The damage these people have done to their community over that time cannot be quantified.
“The five individuals sentenced today were part of a much wider network and had contacts across the UK and abroad. They were top of the tree.”
Investigators discovered the group had links with various criminal organisations in Holland and Pakistan, from where drugs including heroin, MDMA and cannabis would be sourced and imported into the UK.
Cash would then be laundered with a significant proportion being transferred out of the UK, often via Dubai.
Investigators placed various members of the gang under surveillance.
The five were arrested in September 2012 in an operation supported by Bedfordshire Police, just days after Samar had flown in to the UK from Pakistan.
Officers seized more than £140,000 in cash from Samar, who was staying at Habib’s address at the time.
Det Supt Kevin Conneely, Head of Intelligence at Bedfordshire Police, said: “These are exactly the sort of criminals who should be removed from society and put behind bars. They were a well-organised, family crime group and therefore very hard to tackle.
“They’ve caused huge harm in their own community over a number of years so we’re pleased to have been able to support the NCA in targeting them and getting the right outcome for local residents.”
The NCA’s Regional Head of Investigations Brendan Foreman said £900,000 cash has already been seized from this network but the NCA’s financial investigation continues and we will now seek to use the Proceeds of Crime Act to strip them of their criminal assets.
See on www.lutontoday.co.uk