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The gang smuggled billions in cash into Dubai, paying extra for a bigger suitcase weight limit | Business

British police considered the network to be one of the largest in the country’s history. Even one Czech who was sentenced to 26 months behind bars in Britain last year participated in money laundering.

Forty-seven-year-old Abdullah Bayat Alfalasi, a citizen of the Emirates, recruited dozens of couriers into his service. From April 2019 to November 2020, they transported cash for him in luggage on the London-Dubai route.

Upon arrival, they handed over the money, Alfalasí converted it into dirhams, with which he bought gold or cryptocurrencies in Africa.

Hired couriers returned to Britain with empty suitcases after a few days. They earned 3,000 to 8,000 pounds (about 87,000 to 234,000 crowns) for one trip. 36 couriers worked for the group, in total they managed to make 83 trips.

Freshener and coffee

According to investigators, the couriers traveled exclusively in business class, which allows for a larger baggage weight limit. They tried to arrive at check-in as late as possible to avoid detection.

Bundles of notes were vacuum-packed in the luggage, each suitcase containing roughly £500,000. To confuse police dogs, couriers spray them with air freshener or add coffee to them.

“It is one of the biggest money laundering cases ever investigated by the British Public Prosecution Service. The network began to fall apart when, in October 2020, authorities at London’s Heathrow Airport seized £1.9 million (CZK 55.6 million) in cash from one of the passengers. A month later, they detained two Czech citizens traveling to Dubai in London. Customs officers found £1.2 million in their three suitcases and another £30,000 in notes of various denominations in two pieces of hand luggage.

Travelers from European Union countries can bring a maximum of €10,000 (roughly £8,400) in cash into the UAE. A higher financial amount must be declared at customs.

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