Surrey woman who smuggled 18 suitcases of £6.8 million of dirty cash from Heathrow to Dubai avoids jail

A woman from Surrey who smuggled 18 suitcases full of £6.8 million in dirty cash on a flight to Dubai has prevented jail.

CCTV footage from Heathrow airport reveals Samantha Horst, 51, from Staines-upon-Thames, who smuggled an estimated £1.3m inside three instances forward of the journey in September 2020.

She was half of a world cash laundering community that transported greater than £100 million in illicit cash from the UK to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) throughout 83 separate journeys between November 2019 and October 2020.

She and different members of the 17-strong gang had been paid up to £5,000 for every journey they took to the Gulf state. Bramall has since been handed a suspended jail sentence following a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation.

Samantha HorstSamantha Horst

Samantha Horst -Credit:NCA

The huge cash laundering operation was overseen by ringleader Abdullah Alfalasi, a 48-year-old Emirati nationwide, who was jailed for greater than 9 years in July 2022. The couriers, who communicated on WhatsApp teams together with one titled ’Sunshine and lollipops’, had been booked on enterprise class flights due to the additional baggage allowance.

Horst was handed a 24-month jail sentence suspended for 2 years at Isleworth Crown Court on February 22. She was sentenced alongside Paige Henry, 26, from Birmingham, Craig Bramall, 42, Bridget Taylor, 44, from Edinburgh.

Two different members of the group, Ali Al-Nawab, 40, and Mehdi Amrollahbibiyouki, 41, each from London, had been sentenced at the moment.

Adrian Searle, Director of the National Economic Crime Centre within the NCA, stated: “Money laundering fuels the global drugs trade, human trafficking, fraud, ransomware and many other crimes that cause misery and ruin lives. Today is an important step in removing one transnational criminal gang responsible for laundering at least £100 million.

“Gangs such as this smuggle cash on behalf of international controller networks – apex criminals who deploy sophisticated techniques to move and conceal the proceeds of crime in eye watering volumes and, sometimes, at the click of a button. The world’s most dangerous organised criminals and corrupt elites cannot operate effectively without them.

“With 17 people sentenced, this case highlights the scale and level of organisation money launderers will deploy to commit their crimes. The NCA is committed to targeting these gangs and working with our partners across the globe to reduce the threat from all forms of illicit finance.”

Horst, who was arrested following NCA raids in May 2021, made three journeys to Dubai between August and September 2020, checking in 18 suitcases containing £6.8 million. Taylor made the journey with a co-traveller in September 2020, taking 5 suitcases containing £2 million. She additionally transported £1.3 million in three suitcases in July of that yr.

Henry made 4 journeys to Dubai in August and September 2020, one alone and three with different couriers, carrying a complete of 24 suitcases containing £9.05 million.

Amrollahbibiyouki, who was arrested at his residence handle in April 2022, made three journeys to Dubai in February and March 2020, checking in 12 suitcases containing £4.3 million. Evidence on his telephones revealed that he had additionally been chargeable for counting and packaging prison cash totalling £11.1 million for eight journeys made by different couriers, together with those he made himself.

Al-Nawab was arrested in May 2022 as he was leaving the UK to journey to Turkey. He made two journeys in March 2020, checking in 9 suitcases containing £3.2 million.

The community collected cash from prison teams across the UK, which was primarily the income of drug dealing, and took it to counting homes that had been rented flats in central London.

The cash was then vacuum packed and separated into suitcases, which might sometimes every include round £500,000. They had been sprayed with espresso or air fresheners in an effort to forestall them being discovered by sniffer canines.

NCA senior investigating officer Ian Truby stated: “This was cash smuggling on a breath-taking scale. Although many of the couriers regarded these trips as paid for adventures in the sun, the stark reality is that this cash was generated from real-world harm.

“Profits are often re-invested into criminal activities such as drug trafficking, which fuels violence and insecurity in the UK and across the world. This case, one of the largest of its kind ever investigated by the NCA, demonstrates our commitment to targeting the criminal networks involved in international money laundering.”

Horst was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment suspended for 2 years, Taylor to 21 months imprisonment suspended for 2 years. Henry was sentenced to two years imprisonment suspended for 2 years on 15 March.

Al-Nawab was sentenced to two years, suspended for 2 years. Amrollahbibiyouki was jailed for 4 years.

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