Eight sentenced for industrial scale drugs and money laundering investigation
Eight members of an organised crime group have been sentenced to a total of more than 110 years’ imprisonment for their roles in the supply of a tonne of cocaine and the laundering of £24m.
Following an extensive investigation by the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU), they were sentenced today (23/12) at Aylesbury Crown Court, sitting at Amersham.
- Sandeep Rao, aged 47, of Queen Street, Maidenhead, was sentenced to 24 years and two months’ imprisonment and was given a serious crime prevention order. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply a Class A drug – cocaine, and conspiracy to possess criminal property at a previous court hearing on 8 February this year.
- Shahzad Hussain, aged 50, of Laburnum Road, High Wycombe, was sentenced to 23 years and seven months’ imprisonment and was given a serious crime prevention order. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply a Class A drug – cocaine, conspiring to supply a Class A drug – heroin, and conspiracy to possess criminal property at a court hearing on 12 May this year.
- Edwin Kapoor, aged 48, of Maypole Court, Merrick Road, Southall, Ealing, was sentenced to 18 years and 11 months’ imprisonment and was given a serious crime prevention order. He previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply a Class A drug – cocaine, conspiring to supply a Class A drug – heroin, and conspiracy to possess criminal property at a hearing on 9 April last year.
- Hardev Thind, aged 44, of Heston Avenue, Hounslow, was sentenced to 14 years and two months’ imprisonment. He previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply a Class A drug – cocaine, conspiring to supply a Class A drug – MDMA, conspiring to supply a Class A drug – heroin and conspiracy to possess criminal property at a court hearing on 3 June last year.
- Raj Seechurn, aged 41, of Wellesbourne Crescent, High Wycombe, was sentenced to seven years and six months’ imprisonment to run consecutively to the six years and six month prison sentence already imposed as part of this investigation. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply a Class A drug – cocaine at a hearing on 3 June 2021.
- Azher Hussain, aged 53, of The Parsons, High Wycombe, was sentenced to four years and one month imprisonment. He previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess criminal property at a hearing on 22 April this year.
- Iain Harper, aged 33, of Jubilee Close, Harwich, Essex, was sentenced to 15 years and nine months’ imprisonment. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply a Class A drug – cocaine, conspiring to supply a Class A drug – MDMA and conspiracy to possess criminal property at a hearing on 1 June this year.
- Angela Harvey, aged 39, of Gomm Place, High Wycombe, was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years along with 120 hours community service and given a 15 month driving disqualification. She previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess criminal property at a hearing on 25 April this year.
The court heard the group used an encrypted communications platform to organise and facilitate the supply of 1000 kilos of cocaine, 50 kilos of heroin and laundering of £24m of criminal proceeds between January and September 2020.
Specialist officers from SEROCU began investigating in April 2020 after the encrypted EncroChat platform was taken down as part of a huge international law enforcement operation. . Data from the network, which was used by criminals worldwide to candidly discuss the illegal exploits, revealed the sheer scale of the group’s criminality.
The network, headed up by Sandeep Rao, ran their criminal operation from an apartment in Rutland Street, High Wycombe. The premises, identified by police as the ‘safe house, was used to store multi-kilo qualities of cocaine as well as to process and stockpile millions of pounds of criminal proceeds.
Rao worked directly with a supplier in Dubai, ordering multi-kilo consignments of cocaine on a weekly basis, and arranging the onwards supply throughout the UK via an extensive network of customers.
Shahzad Hussain, the right-hand man of Rao, controlled the safe house and operated high-end money counting machines in order to process the vast amounts of money being generated by the group’s extensive drugs supply. He oversaw a network of couriers who were dispatched on a daily basis delivering huge quantities of cocaine and collecting vast sums of money. Hussain was also head of the group’s heroin distribution.
Edwin Kapoor operated as a deputy for Rao and Hussain and was involved in the supply of cocaine and heroin and assisted with the organisation, deployment and payment of couriers.
Hardev Thind was a trusted courier of the group, responsible for conveying cocaine, heroin, MDMA and criminal money on a regular basis. He was also identified as being responsible for buying the money counting equipment.
Azher Hussain was a courier, counter and caretaker of the cash and occupied a significant role within the safe house. He was found to have to have laundered no less than £1 million of the proceeds from the supply of Class A drugs.
Raj Seechurn was another courier, responsible for the transportation of wholesale quantities of drugs and cash to and from other associated organised criminals. He was arrested on 14 May 2020 and found to be in possession of 7kg of cocaine which he had attempted to conceal within his vehicle.
Iain Harper purchased kilo quantities of cocaine from the criminal network and arranged for their onwards distribution within Essex. Harper was found to have purchased at least 18 kilos from Rao’s network.
Angela Harvey was a cash courier, conveying large sums of money between the home addresses of the organised criminal network and the safe house. She was found to have to have laundered £200,000 of the proceeds from the supply of Class A drugs.
These sentences follow that of Veshal Madlani who was sentenced to five years and three months’ imprisonment on the 21 October this year for his role within the criminal conspiracy.
Investigating officer DC Dale Lester, of SEROCU, said: “This organised crime group operated at the highest level – with members involved in the supply of vast quantities of Class A drugs across the United Kingdom.
“While many members of the group used encrypted devices to arrange their criminal exploits, believing they would not be detected, their plans to profit from others’ misery were halted by police.
“The impact of their crime’s filters through communities up and down the country as we know the devastating impact and widespread harm of drug use and addiction can have on people. Put simply, the actions of those who supply drugs, destroys many lives.
“I’d like to thank my colleagues, CPS and prosecuting counsel for their commitment to this lengthy and complex investigation and I hope that today’s sentences are a reflection of SEROCU’s dedication in tackling and dismantling Organised Crime.”
Detective Chief Inspector Michael Hall, Head of Investigations for SEROCU, said: “The scale of the operation which led to these convictions was truly complex and demanding. Our team worked tirelessly to bring these offenders to justice, working closely with colleagues across the criminal justice system including the Crown Prosecution Service.
“SEROCU will always seek to tackle the highest harm offenders who cause misery in our communities. The sentencing reflects the gravity of the offenders’ role in this case, and, let there be no doubt, others who engage in organised criminality will be relentlessly pursued.
“Finally, I wish to thank all my team, and our partners who built a strong prosecution case, showing dedication and professionalism throughout. Our officers often work in the shadows but, once again, this result demonstrates our commitment to tackling and disrupting organised crime.”
If you have information about the supply of drugs in your community, please contact your local police force on the non-emergency number 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Notes to editors
Images from the investigation are available.
No custody images are available of Raj Seechurn nor Angela Harvey.