21/10/2010

Men Jailed Over Money Laundering And Drug Trafficking Charges

Two men from south east London have been jailed for 24 years each for their part in money laundering and drug trafficking criminal activities.

John Obidegwu and Ike Johnson were sentenced at Croydon Crown Court to eight years each for money laundering offences and 24 years each for drug trafficking offences, to run concurrently.

HMRC Investigation Officers uncovered the extent of Obidegwu and Johnson’s life of crime, when Obidegwu was the proprietor of a hairdressering business in Deptford, which also operated a Western Union money transfer franchise. Examination of records for the franchise identified links to Obidegwu and payments being made to South America and Nigeria.

Officers arrested Obidegwu in July 2009. He had £20,000 in £20 notes on him at the time of his arrest. In raids carried out on several properties in south east London, officers seized almost seven kilos of cocaine still wrapped in swallower packages, and a large quantity of the drug cutting agent, phenacetin. They also seized a total of £150,000, €113,000 in €500 notes, along with £12,000 in sterling at Obidegwu’s home address.

Records found during the searches and further investigation identified Johnson as a facilitator of the drug importations and linked him to laundering millions of pounds.

Johnson was arrested in November 2009. The court heard that the men would arrange for couriers to bring the drugs into the UK, mainly from Amsterdam and then sell the drugs on to dealers.

At the trial, held last month, at Croydon Crown Court, Johnson pleaded guilty to the money laundering offences. Obidegwu was found guilty on all counts, of money laundering and drug trafficking, and Johnson was found guilty of the drug trafficking offence.

On the day of sentencing, His Honour Judge Flahive commended the officers who conducted the investigation.

Confiscation proceedings have been instigated to recover proceeds of these crimes for the public purse.

Martin Brown, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said: “HMRC investigators were able to connect Obidegwu and Johnson to these crimes and prove their involvement in criminal activities worth millions of pounds. These sentences make it clear to those tempted to launder money, or get involved in the illegal drugs trade, that they are taking a serious risk.”

(BMcN/GK)

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