A man who attempted to launder money for an Albanian organised crime group has been sentenced to four years in prison.
Vladimir Cahani, aged 33, and his wife Ardita, aged 26, from Clapham were stopped at the Channel Tunnel terminal near Folkestone in Kent on 7 June 2014. The couple were travelling with their nine-month-old baby.
Their Audi was searched by Border Force, who found 130,000 Euros (approximately £103,000) in 50 and 100 notes hidden inside the dashboard.
National Crime Agency investigators were able to piece together the couple’s movements in the hours before they were arrested.
In the early hours of that morning Vladimir Cahani had been in text contact with North London drug dealer Lufti Muja and the couple had driven to his home in Bowes Park before travelling down to Folkestone.
Fingerprints belonging to Muja’s criminal partner Urim Bardhoshi were found on some of the bank notes.
Muja and Bardhoshi were later arrested by the NCA, and officers found more cash, drugs, false IDs and drug dealing lists in Bardhoshi’s flat. The men were jailed for six and nine years respectively in April 2015.
The Cahanis denied money laundering charges but were found guilty by a jury at Canterbury Crown Court on 29 July 2016 following a trial.
On Monday 26 September Vladimir Cahani was sentenced to four years in prison. His wife Ardita received an 18 month suspended sentence, taking into account that she had given birth to their second child in the weeks following their trial.
Matt Rivers, from the NCA’s Border Policing Command, said: “The prime motivator behind almost all crime is money and it is highly likely that this cash would have been re-invested and fuelled further criminal enterprises.
“Organised crime groups need money launderers and cash couriers like the Cahanis, and rely on them to process the proceeds of the crime. We are determined to do all we can to disrupt criminal activity by cutting off that money flow.”
Paul Morgan, Director of Border Force South East and Europe, said: “The Cahanis’ vehicle was subjected to a physical search after one of Border Force’s specially trained cash detection dogs indicated that there was money concealed in the car. As a result of that initial indication, seven packages stuffed with cash were uncovered hidden in the car’s dashboard.
“This was an excellent detection; one that has starved criminals of the proceeds of their illegal activities and which led directly to the Cahanis’ convictions.”