EIGHT PEOPLE have been arrested as part of a National Crime Agency (NCA) operation targeting a suspected network of cash couriers responsible for laundering more than £50 million in criminal profits. Officers carried out raids on the morning of Tuesday 11 May at locations in London, Surrey, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.
The three males and five females arrested during the raids are alleged to be cash couriers responsible for hiding large amounts of money in luggage on commercial flights to Dubai from Heathrow Airport or Manchester Airport. On each occasion, the alleged couriers flew out with large amounts of checked-in baggage. Days later, they would then return with fewer cases.
The investigation began after the seizure of around £1.9 million from outbound passenger Tara Hanlon, aged 30 from Leeds, at Heathrow Airport in October last year. Hanlon was later charged with money laundering and now awaits trial.
Around a month later, Czech national Zdenek Kamaryt, aged 38, from Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Republic, was intercepted as he attempted to board a flight from Heathrow to Dubai. £1.3 million in cash was found in his bags, with investigators identifying that Kamaryt had made two previous trips in July and August.
Kamaryt subsequently pleaded guilty to money laundering offences and was given a two-year jail sentence on 9 March 2021.
NCA senior investigating officer Ian Truby said: “Cash is the lifeblood of organised crime. Organised crime groups need to launder it so they invest it in further criminality. Our investigation has identified millions of pounds of what we suspect are criminal profits being flown out of the UK to be laundered.”
Truby added: “This investigation has prevented that from happening on a number of occasions, but we have been able to identify previous trips by individuals we believe were carrying money. What we have seen is huge shipments of cash. Couriers have been carrying multiple suitcases with up to half a million pounds in each of them. Those couriers would likely have been paid several thousand pounds themselves.”
The NCA’s investigation continues. The eight individuals arrested remain in custody for questioning.