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CASH MULES: 3 men jailed after being found with £170k in clampdown on serious and organised crime

CASH MULES: 3 men jailed after being found with £170k in clampdown on serious and organised crime

Image: Northumbria Police

Three cash mules caught carrying almost £60,000 in plastic bags have been jailed after they were snared in a clampdown on serious and organised crime.

The men, who are all from Albania, were arrested back in June when they were caught leaving an address in Deckham laden with heavy-looking carrier bags.

Nevruz Gjini, 28, and Blerim Gjona 33, had left a property on Kitchener Street and were heading south on the A1 in a Mercedes when officers pulled them over and found a Tesco bag inside the boot filled with £45,000.

Their associate, Ledio Bicceri, 22, was arrested outside the property later that day and £11,200 recovered from the front seat of his VW Passat.

A search of the address led officers to a haul of £112,945 cash, as well as drugs paraphernalia, false driving licences and a range of foreign currency. A notebook outlining a series of illicit business accounts was also found.

Gjona and Gjini, both of no fixed abode, and Bicceri, of Durham Road Gateshead all previously admitted money laundering and possession of criminal property at Newcastle Crown Court.

And on Friday (February 12) they were all sentenced to 16 months imprisonment at the same court.

Speaking after the hearing, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Woods from Northumbria Police’s Priority and Organised Crime team (POCT) said: “This has been a long and complex investigation and I’m pleased these men have been brought before the courts. These sentences are a reflection of the hard work and determination from our officers to ensure that serious and organised crime is pushed out of our communities.

“These men showed a blatant disregard for the law –not only were they involved in the supply and distribution of illegal drugs but they also lied and claimed they had been illegally trafficked here and forced to work. Thanks to our detectives, we were able to prove these men knew exactly what they were doing and were willing participants in this criminal activity.

“This operation seized a total of £169,145 in cash – a substantial loss for any criminal enterprise. I hope this shows our communities we are serious about tackling crime, and will come down heavy on anyone found to involved in illicit activity. Under Operation Sentinel we will pursue offenders and dismantle their organisations in any way we can.”

In addition to the custodial sentences imposed on the trio - all recovered cash was forfeited under Proceeds of Crime Act at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on January 12, and the recovered vehicles have also subjected to a Deprivation Order - meaning they will not be returned to their owners.

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