A gang who imported over GBP 165 million of cocaine into the UK has been jailed for a total of 170 years.
Derbyshire Constabulary said in a statement on 7th January: “An investigation by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) revealed the 21 strong group was led by Paldip Mahngar who organised in the region of 100kg of high-purity cocaine from his unassuming terraced house in Willow Close, Darley Abbey.”
The police said the 45-year-old suspect used an encrypted EncroChat phone to order large quantities of cocaine from his contacts in Dubai, which were then “distributed across the country by Jaswant Kajla”, adding: “From his home in Bluebird Drive, Coventry, Kajla organised the logistics of moving the drugs, along with the collecting of money from the gang’s customers.
“The 41-year-old ensured that those delivering the cocaine had well-rehearsed cover stories as couriers who could deny their knowledge of the drugs they were delivering.
“The money collected was dealt with by Manraj Johal – the gang’s accountant. The 32-year-old kept detailed Excel spreadsheets that showed the incomings, outgoings, and expenses of the gang.”
EncroChat was one of the world’s largest encrypted communications services and is estimated to have had 60,000 users across Europe, including 10,000 users in the UK. It is not entirely certain who operated the company, although its servers were located in France, and eventually its services together with the data was seized by police officers in Europe – who then shared relevant sections with UK cops.
Derbyshire Constabulary said: “Using another encrypted phone Johal, of Turnpike Drive, Luton, would then contact the upstream suppliers of the drugs to update them about how much money was being made.
“The gang had two ‘offices’ in Luton and Derby where millions of GBP flowed through from their cocaine sales – with an estimated GBP 18.6m being made by the gang between 16 March and 30 April 2020, a daily total of GBP 400k which officers used to estimate the gang’s total earnings over the 408-day conspiracy to be a staggering GBP 165,208,208.”
According to the police, the Derby office was run by the “last top-level member of the gang Manvir Singh”, 33, also known as Manveer Khakh, responsible for “counting, bundling, vacuum packing and then assigning an individual token number to each of the bundles of cash”.
Singh met with couriers who moved the cash to other gang members around the country.
The police said: “The four leading members of the gang – Mahngar, Singh, Johal and Bahia – travelled to Dubai to meet their contacts bragging that the person they were visiting was on a ‘mil a week’ and wearing a GBP 110,000 watch while spending GBP 37,000 in a club on a Thursday night.
“The investigation into the gang’s exploits was well underway when detectives were supplied with further evidence of their criminality after the secure EncroChat phone system the gang were using was taken down.
“The system, which was used by criminals across the world, was infiltrated by law enforcement in Europe who then passed the information to UK authorities.
“The information gleaned from the messages allowed officers to target the gang and intercept 7kg of cocaine being transported in Derby in April 2020. The couriering of the drugs had been organised by Kajla, who sent gang member Basharat Iqbal to pick up the drugs. When Iqbal’s home was searched, he was found to have GBP 20,000 in GBP 1,000 bundles in a locked tin – and 3kg of cocaine in a wardrobe.
“And the extent of the cash being turned over was shown even more starkly when, during further warrants in June 2020, officers found money counter Nimrat Bahia mid-way through bundling GBP 530,000 at an apartment in London.
“The other members of the gang helped move the drugs and money around the country. The Couriers – Ranjit Sandhu, Basharat Iqbal, Banaras Iqbal, and Tyrone Gibbons. The Cash Counters – John Castledine and Adil Saddique.
“With the drugs being purchased by wholesale customers, with the following people buying the cocaine by the kilo: The Customers – Michael Karim, Kelly Williamson, Nathaniel Collymore, Narinderpal Sahota, Mohammad Shafiq and Joseph Davidson.”
The police continued: “Further evidence discovered by officers showed that four of the men were also involved in the supply of heroin between January and February 2020.
“Shimei Connell and Joseph Davidson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to supply heroin – while Marvin Johnson and Jermaine Callender were found guilty at trial.”