world : Five members of tobacco crime gang jailed

world : Five members of tobacco crime gang jailed
world : Five members of tobacco crime gang jailed

Friday 14 June 2024 10:31 PM

Nafeza 2 world - During an operation, officers from Cardiff, Bridgend and Vale Councils’ Shared Regulatory Services seized £600,000 of illegal tobacco and £12,500 of nitrous oxide canisters.

Sentencing, Judge Huw Rees said the group ran a "lucrative cash business" and made determined efforts to hide their products, adding there were many victims of their trading.

The operation against the gang started in February 2020, after reports of several shops selling illegal tobacco and nitrous oxide.

Most shops were in Cardiff, including European Mini Market on Tudor Street, and The Best European Food shop on Clifton Street.

The group also used Apna Bazaar Bridgend Ltd on Dunraven Place in Bridgend and Barry Stores on Tynewydd Road in Barry.

The court heard how the shops appeared to sell genuine products, but instead were being used to hide large amounts of illegal tobacco which was being sold to customers, including children.

The court was given a conservative estimate that each shop was making around £1000 a day from selling the items.

Tobacco was kept in secure units or at the homes of the defendants, and it was transported by cars with blacked out windows to the shops late at night.

Once inside the shop it was kept in secret compartments which were locked by remote controlled electric magnets and could only be found by sniffer dogs or by breaking through walls.

In some cases, tobacco was transported via electric winches and plastic tubes linking the shops to flats above.

Helen Picton, head of shared regulatory services said: "Although they thought they were operating with impunity, what they didn’t know is that they were being monitored and as the two trials showed, there was overwhelming evidence for the juries to find them guilty of these offences.

"It was clear from the investigation that they believed they were entitled to carry out their fraudulent business and showed little remorse.

"Illegal tobacco does great harm in the community and offenders need to know that they will face consequences if they choose to deal in these illegal products."

Sergeant Jake Rollnick from South Wales Police said: "This operation is a perfect example of how South Wales Police works with partners to relentlessly pursue criminals in our communities."

All ten members were convicted of carrying out a business for a fraudulent purpose.

Ali Aldarawish, 34, from Albany Road, Roath, Cardiff, was also found guilty of one count of money laundering to the sum of £792,255. He was jailed for seven years.

Shwan Kamal Sofizada, 32, from Caeglass Road, Rumney, Cardiff, was also found guilty of one count of money laundering to the sum of £171,209. He was jailed for six years.

Saman Sedik, 45, from High View Bridgend, was also found guilty of one count of money laundering to the sum of £102,389. He was jailed for three years.

Abdulla Laksari, 37, from Alice Street, Butetown, Cardiff, was also found guilty of two counts of money laundering to the sum of £476,069. He was jailed for six years.

Farhard Sofizadeh, 32, from High Street, Barry, was sentenced to three years.

Karwan Mohammadi, 31, from Canton Court, Riverside, Cardiff, was sentenced to two years, suspended for 12 months, and must complete 150 hours of unpaid work.

Mariwam Mohammed, 38, from Gold Street, Adamsdown, Cardiff, was sentenced to 19 months, suspended for 12 months, and must complete 150 hours unpaid work and 10 days of rehabilitation activity.

Aiysha Bibi, 24, from High Street, Barry, was sentenced to two years suspended for 18 months, and must complete 20 days of rehabilitation.

Rebin Ahmed, 32, from Drayton Street, Walsall, was sentenced to 19 months, suspended for 12 months, and must complete 10 days of rehabilitation and 100 hours of unpaid work.

Alan Abdullah, 22, from Fleetwood Road, Leicester, was sentenced to two years, suspended for 12 months, and must complete 10 days of rehabilitation and 100 hours of unpaid work.

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