Confiscation orders totalling more than £2million have been secured against the ringleaders of a conspiracy to import millions of pounds worth of class B drugs into the UK from Europe.
Sandro Farini, aged 60, owner of the Skiff Inn pub in Gateshead, headed a criminal network with Jaswinder Sahota ,aged 51, a Derby business man with offices also in Amsterdam. Sahota’s responsibility was to launder the money and facilitate the business end of the operation. The members of the network were caught attempting to smuggle 85 litres of Amphetamine Hydrochloride, which had the potential to be converted into over 180kg of Amphetamine powder with a street value in excess of £7 million.
In October 2012, a lorry operated by a Stockton based haulage firm, was stopped at Coquelles in France. Border Force officers searched the lorry and found 60 litres of the drugs in plastic containers disguised as ‘Add Blue’, an additive used to improve the performance of diesel engines.
In February 2013 a further 25 litres of liquid Amphetamine Hydrochloride were imported via the same haulier.
All members of the group were subsequently arrested, and 50,000 Euros in cash was seized from the Skiff Inn; money which officers believe was intended to be used to buy more of the drug in Europe.
In April 2013, five men pleaded guilty to drugs and importation offences in Newcastle Crown Court. In November 2014 Sahota was additionally convicted of money laundering and mortgage fraud offences which came to light during the financial investigation relating to the drugs offences.
Kim Kitney, Financial Investigation Senior Manager at the National Crime Agency’s Economic Crime Command, said: “These substantial orders represent the culmination of the NCA’s action to dismantle an organised crime group targeting the North East drugs market. Tracing the gang’s assets and identifying the profit made is painstaking and time consuming, but it is vital both to prevent criminals enjoying the benefit of their activity but also to take away the capital they could use to fund any future operations.
“Taking away assets can hurt criminals more than prison sentences and demonstrates that the NCA will use every tool available to pursue organised criminals and dismantle criminal networks.”