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2 Indian-origin men guilty of leading drug gang in UK

During investigation, officers seized more than £1.4million in cash, with at least £1.8 million more known to have been laundered by the criminal network.

world Updated: Jun 13, 2019 11:27 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Punjab,Kieran O’Kane,Audi A3
The gang led by Tilbury-based Kang and his right hand man Gravesend-based Pooney used encrypted smartphones as well as unregistered ‘burner’ phones to direct its activity, the NCA said. (Reuters Photo/Daniel Becerril)

A gang described as “extensive” and led by Baljinder Kang and Sukhjinder Pooney that supplied ‘Class A’ drugs and laundered millions of pounds in illicit profits, has been dismantled, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said on Wednesday.

The gang led by Tilbury-based Kang and his right hand man Gravesend-based Pooney used encrypted smartphones as well as unregistered ‘burner’ phones to direct its activity, the NCA said. Both were arrested on January 31, 2018, and have now been convicted.

“Members of the crime group trafficked millions of pounds worth of illegal drugs across England. The proceeds were then deposited in cash into front company bank accounts, before being transferred to a destination account in Dubai,” the NCA said in a statement.

During investigation, officers seized more than £1.4million in cash, with at least £1.8 million more known to have been laundered by the criminal network.

Investigations resulted in the seizure of over 37kg of Class A drugs — including heroin and cocaine with a street level value of over £3.5m — a handgun with ammunition, and 50kg of ketamine.

Numerous additional drug deals were noted in ledgers found by officers searching Kang’s home address after he was first arrested in January 2018. Despite having little legitimate income, Kang lived a lavish lifestyle.

He purchased luxury goods from designer stores and owned watches worth £12,000 and £36,000. He also leased a Mercedes and an Audi A3, and travelled regularly to the United Arab Emirates.

At Kingston Crown Court, Pooney was found guilty of conspiracy to supply drugs, after having previously pleaded guilty to money laundering offences. One of his cash couriers, Kieran O’Kane, was also found guilty of money laundering, while Webster Kenton and Abid Rasul were convicted of conspiracy to supply Class B drugs.

Kang pleaded guilty to all charges against him, as did money launderers Amir Ali and Aminoor Ahmed. They will be sentenced at a later date. John Coles of NCA said: “This investigation has systematically broken up a significant criminal organisation which operated across the South East, West Midlands and into the north of England.”

First Published: Jun 13, 2019 11:27 IST