Eight people have been arrested as part of a National Crime Agency operation targeting a suspected network of cash couriers responsible for laundering more than £50 million in criminal profits.

seized cashOfficers carried out the raids this morning (Tuesday 11 May) at locations in London, Surrey, West Yorkshire, and Greater Manchester.

The three men and five women arrested are alleged to be cash couriers responsible for hiding large amounts of cash in luggage on commercial flights to Dubai from Heathrow or Manchester airports.

The investigation began after the seizure of around £1.9 million from outbound passenger Tara Hanlon, aged 30, from Leeds, at Heathrow in October 2020. She was later charged with money laundering and now awaits trial.

Around a month later Czech national Zdenek Kamaryt, aged 38, from Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Republic, was intercepted as he attempted to board a flight from Heathrow to Dubai. £1.3 million cash was found in his bags, with investigators identifying he had made two previous trips in July and August.

Kamaryt pleaded guilty to money laundering offences and was given a two-year jail sentence on 9 March 2021.

NCA senior investigating officer Ian Truby said:

“Cash is the lifeblood of organised crime. Organised crime groups need to launder it so they invest it in further criminality.

“Our investigation has identified millions of pounds of what we suspect are criminal profits being flown out of the UK to be laundered.

“This investigation has prevented that from happening on a number of occasions, but we have been able to identify previous trips by individuals we believe were carrying money.

“What we have seen is huge shipments of cash, with couriers carrying multiple suitcases, with up to half a million pounds in each case. Those couriers would likely have been paid several thousand pounds themselves.

“Our investigation continues, and those arrested today remain in custody for questioning.”

11 May 2021