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Police nab gang that smuggled cocaine worth €198m into the UK through Dubai 'contact'

At one point, they were thought to be raking in as much as £400,000 a day through their 'offices' in Derby and Luton
Gang leader Paldip Mahngar

Gang leader Paldip Mahngar

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

A gang of 21 criminals who smuggled cocaine worth £165m (€198m) into the UK from Dubai have been sentenced to a total of 167 in jail years after being snared through Encrochat.

Authorities had already been investigating the gang when the criminal Encrochat phone system was infiltrated by European police.

The complex network of well-organised individuals had been shifting illegal drugs on an “industrial scale” before the encoded-phone system often used by criminals was hacked.

This infiltration gave British police the evidence to arrest the gang.

Led by Paldip Mahngar (45) who operated from a house in Derby, it is estimated that the gang made a total of £165,208,208 over a 408-day crime spree.

Leading members of the gang would travel out to Dubai to meet their cocaine contact who they bragged was on a “mill a week”.

At one point, they were thought to be raking in as much as £400,000 (€480k) a day through their 'offices' in Derby and Luton.

While Mahngar used an encrypted phone with the Encrochat system to order numerous kilograms of cocaine from contacts in Dubai, his accomplice, Jaswant Kajla (41) from Coventry would then distribute the drugs across the country.

Kajla also arranged for the gang's earnings to be collected and ensured that the distributors, acting as couriers, delivered their illicit drugs to buyers.

Meanwhile, the gang's accountant, Manraj Johal (32) dealt with the collected money, and kept well-ordered spreadsheets logging the gang's financial comings and goings.

Johal, of Luton, then used another encrypted phone to relay his activity to his superiors.

At one point, it is thought the gang was raking in as much as £400,000 a day through their 'offices' in Derby and Luton

At one point, it is thought the gang was raking in as much as £400,000 a day through their 'offices' in Derby and Luton

By monitoring the gang’s messages, police were able to intercept a 7kg package of cocaine in Derby, April 2020.

And when one gang member Basharat Iqbal had his home searched, police found £20,000 in £1,000 bundles in a locked tin and 3kg of cocaine stuffed in a wardrobe

In total, the gang was jailed for a total of 167 years, with the leaders handed down the heaviest sentences, with Paldip Mahgar receiving 18 years and three months, Jaswant Kajla 15 years and three months, Manraj Johal 15 years and eight months and Manvir Singh 13 years.

DCI Tim Walters, who led the investigation, said this was a massive undertaking by a very skilled and determined investigation team to dismantle a gang which was responsible for the industrial scale wholesale supply of cocaine across the country.

“While the gang's use of a token system to monitor their cash flow and the encrypted Encrochat handsets to coordinate their business showed a level of sophistication, they merely acted as a breadcrumb trail for us to see the scale of the business, and identify each member of the organised crime group, as well as every sale they had made,” he said.

By monitoring the gang’s messages, police were able to intercept a 7kg package of cocaine in Derby, April 2020

By monitoring the gang’s messages, police were able to intercept a 7kg package of cocaine in Derby, April 2020

“The hefty sentences given today are not only a testament to an impressive regional investigation, but also to the power of collaborative law enforcement on a national and international scale.

“And we've not finished yet.

“Through the Proceeds of Crime Act we will now seek to identify and seize any assets amounted from the running of this illicit enterprise, to ensure those responsible are not only stripped of their freedom, but also of any profits made through their criminal activities.”


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