The National Crime Agency has used proceeds of crime powers to seize properties worth £1.7 million from associates of an organised crime group involved in drug supply in Staffordshire and the West Midlands.
Nine men and four women connected to the group were sentenced at Stafford Crown Court in December for their involvement in a large-scale conspiracy to supply cocaine into an area stretching from Staffordshire to the Welsh Borders.
The group, which was led by the three Saeed brothers from Wolverhampton – Abdul, Mohammed and Shabaz were jailed for a total of more than 50 years.
In January the NCA issued a Civil Recovery Order by Consent at the High Court in London which led to the seizure of property linked to Sukhjinder Kaur, 35, of Rugeley in Staffordshire and her brother-in-law Jasvir Singh, 45, also known as Lashman Chatha, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
The NCA alleged that Kaur laundered the proceeds of the crime group’s drug trafficking activities through purchasing property and was also engaged in mortgage fraud.
This enabled her to amass a property portfolio worth over £2 million between 2010 and 2013, acquired in her own name and that of her company Lashman Estates Limited. The NCA alleged that the acquisitions were made at the direct control of her brother-in-law Jasvir Singh also known as Lashman Chatha.
Three of these properties had been specifically utilised by the Saeed crime group including one found to have an extensive underground cannabis factory.
The respondents denied any involvement in unlawful conduct but they ultimately failed to provide any evidence or consistent account to demonstrate that the properties were funded from legitimate sources.
Based on the strength of the NCA’s case against them and in an attempt to avoid a lengthy trial, the respondents reached a settlement agreement resulting in the recovery by consent of six properties with an approximate net value of £1.7 million.
The properties seized following the Civil Recovery Order are:
- A property in Summerfield Road, Wolverhampton, West Midlands;
- A plot of land in Darlaston Road, Wednesbury, West Midlands;
- A property in Darlaston Road, Wednesbury, West Midlands;
- A property in King Street, Fenton, West Midlands;
- A property in Branston Street, Birmingham, West Midlands;
- A property in Middletown, Welshpool, Wales.
The NCA have been assisted by the West Midlands Regional Asset Recovery Team, who made the original referral, and by Staffordshire Police.
Andy Lewis, the NCA’s Head of Asset Denial, Civil Recovery and Tax Investigations, said: “The powers that the National Crime Agency has under the Proceeds of Crime Act to seize property and other assets that we can show are linked to criminality often go under the radar.
“Our message today though is simple. We will utilise all the powers we have to relentlessly pursue those associated with criminality and in doing so will take away the very assets that criminal activity funds.
“While Staffordshire Police were able to prosecute and convict those involved directly in the drug dealing, we have taken action against key associates suspected of links to that network.”