London: An Indian-origin driver is among 10 members of a so-called “white van group” jailed for a total of 31 years for smuggling drugs and money across the UK.
Daljeet Singh Juttla from west London had been stopped by Scotland Yard officers with 90,000 pounds of drugs money couriered by one of the other gang members.
Yesterday, Liverpool Crown Court handed the 42-year-old Juttla a 20-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, and 200 hours of unpaid work for the money laundering charge.
“Established trafficking routes like these present a complex and troubling threat to the UK. With well worked-out logistics a criminal group can turn its hand to anything from gun running or drug smuggling, expanding their own operations or hiring out their services to others,” said Jane Lloyd, branch commander at the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), which conducted the UK-wide investigation.
“The NCA officers are alert to the tactics criminals use to shift commodities and hide their activity and are equipped with the skills and tools needed to bring them to justice,” she said.
The officers exposed the gang in an investigation that ran from October 2014 to January 2016.
Officers from the Metropolitan, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Merseyside police provided support to the long- running operation.
The group was led by Jamie Hughes and operated out of the north west of England.
Members delivered bulk loads of drugs to clients in locations from Scotland to London in vans with hidden compartments.
Hughes was imprisoned for five years and four months after pleading guilty to his role in the conspiracy.
Hughes, whokept a stun gun disguised as an iPhone, installed a CCTV system to monitor his driveway.
This provided NCA officers with key evidence against his network as footage showed various members of the conspiracy exchanging packages or leavingHughes’s address with parcels.
In addition to cash seizures and damning emails, evidence used against the group included traces of ketamine found in the floor concealment of a white Peugeot Partner van and a hidden compartment in the rear of a white Vauxhall Vivaro van.
Both concealments were skilfully constructed and operated by switches in the cabs, the NCA revealed.