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National Crime Agency arrest four in Kent cash smuggling probe

Suspects – including a 17-year-old boy – have been arrested in connection with colossal sums of money being smuggled from Kent to the continent.

The four males were snared in a series of coordinated stings on Saturday which began with a 48-year-old Albanian national arrested in Dover.

A group has been arrested on suspicion of smuggling colossal sums of money out of Kent
A group has been arrested on suspicion of smuggling colossal sums of money out of Kent

Approximately £200,000 in cash was seized from his vehicle, which is alleged to have been en route to Albania.

Government officials believe the group could be responsible for sums of nearly £400,000 illicitly leaving Kent’s shores on occasions.

Two other men, aged 34 and 22, and a 17-year-old boy were arrested at addresses in Tottenham Hale, London, and around £150,000 in cash was seized from a second vehicle.

The National Crime Agency, working alongside Border Force, have been investigating the group for two years.

Officers believe the organised crime group operates under the guise of a legitimate courier company.

But it specialises in transferring other Albanian-run gangs’ illicit cash out of the UK back to that country.

The investigation began in February 2022 after Border Force stopped the 48-year-old at the outbound Channel Tunnel controls at Folkestone, Kent.

On that occasion, inside his Mercedes Sprinter van, which was bound for the Albanian capital Tirana, officers found a total of £390,000 wrapped in various tin foil packages.

The suspect’s home in Haringey, London, was searched and officers discovered a further £150,000 in cash.

The 34-year-old was previously arrested in September 2022 when officers discovered in excess of £20,000 in his car.

In August 2023, a further £43,980 was seized which was believed to be destined to be transported by the group.

Both men remained under investigation until they were arrested again on Saturday. They have since been released on conditional bail.

The 22-year-old man and 17-year-old boy were released under investigation pending further enquiries.

NCA operations manager Paul Orchard said: “Money launderers enable other serious and organised criminals – such as drugs and firearms dealers - to commit their horrendous offences which so badly damage our society.

“Degrading these gangs’ ability to wash their money is a priority for the NCA in its mission to protect the public.

“The purpose of organised crime is to make money, so by going after it and those who launder it, we are targeting the heart of the criminal business model.”

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