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Mother and son Suzanna Sokolli and Xhino Mata, from Albania, tried to smuggle more than £40,000 cash through Dover

By Sam Lennon

A woman tried to smuggle thousands of pounds in a pair of tights wrapped around her body.

More cash was found hidden in the lining of a handbag when Suzanna Sokolli and her accomplice son were stopped in Dover.

Both were were found to have been trying to bring more than £40,000 out of the UK.

Cash concealed in the tights. Picture: Kent Police
Cash concealed in the tights. Picture: Kent Police

Sokolli, 57, and Xhino Mata, 24, from Albania, were both imprisoned after appearing at Canterbury Crown Court today.

The jury unanimously found them guilty of attempting to conceal a large sum of money and leave the country.

Sokolli was jailed for three years and Mata will serve three-and-a-half years.

They were stopped in a silver Volkswagen Golf at the Port of Dover on Thursday, April 5 and were asked if they were taking large amounts of cash outside of the UK.

Mata, who said he was going to France and Milan, said that he had £7,000 and produced a bag full of banknotes.

The car was searched and a handbag was found to contain several large bundles of cash inside the lining.

Suzanna Sokolli. Picture: Kent Police
Suzanna Sokolli. Picture: Kent Police

The officer then searched Sokolli and found more cash in a pair of beige tights wrapped around her waist.

Sokolli claimed the money was her life savings and said she was hoping to use it to start a business.

She said she had brought it with her as she had previously been robbed and felt it was safer to have it on her person.

Officers ended up seizing more than £40,000 from the two defendants.

A quarter of the cash was in Scottish pound notes while the rest was in Sterling.

Police also seized a mobile phone belonging to Mata and found it contained photographs of bundles of cash.

Xhino Mata. Picture: Kent Police
Xhino Mata. Picture: Kent Police

Det Ch Insp Lee Morton of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: "Neither Mata nor Sokolli could come up with a plausible reason as to why they were carrying so much cash.

"We believe it was ill-gotten and the proceeds of criminality.

"Smuggling cash out of the UK is another method employed by organised crime groups to hide their illegal activities.

"This is why it is so important that we target those who attempt to do so, as the money is usually linked to crimes such as drug-dealing and people trafficking that cause misery in our communities.

"We will now make an application under the Proceeds of Crime Act to ensure the pair do not reap the financial rewards of money that has been gained unlawfully."

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