A MAN who stored more than £12,400 of illegal cash in his shop for an English criminal gang has been refused a Glasgow cab licence.
Fateh Azizi was jailed for six months in January 2018 for being in control of criminal property in Mansfield between January 2014 and April 2014.
Officers received intelligence of the unlawful activity and arrested Azizi once the transaction, of £12,448, had been made.
Azizi was found guilty of being concerned in a money laundering arrangement after a car dealership in Rainworth was found to be trafficking hundreds of kilos of cocaine and heroine across the UK.
Members of the gang based at a Rainworth car dealership, used the garage to rebuild cars with secret compartments which could only be detected by X-Ray.
Police prosecuted numerous members of the 'sophisticated' ring, who also used encrypted mobile phones to organise the laundering cash and supply Class A and B drugs around the country.
Mr Azizi, who was just one of 16 members of the organisation, was brought before Glasgow City Council’s licensing committee to explain himself.
Members were advised by Police Scotland that the Chief Constable objected to the application for a private hire car driver’s licence on the grounds that the applicant was not a fit and proper person to be in possession of such a document.
Mr Azizi explained: “I am the victim here. I let these people transfer money through my shop and I shouldn’t have done that.”
Councillor Alex Wilson said: “You were convicted of putting money through your shop as part of this criminal process.”
Members then questioned Mr Azizi on the steps he had taken to rebuild his life.
He said: “I have been driving for more than 10 years and was a taxi driver in India for two years. I have since moved to Glasgow and I am studying English at college.”
Councillor Elspeth Kerr asked: “How would you respond if you were contacted by this organisation again to take part in their illegal activities?”
Mr Azizi said: “I would tell the police and give them my full cooperation.”
Following the meeting the majority of councillors refused to grant the private hire car driver’s licence.
Europe's biggest drugs ring taken down over two years
The timeline of events that led to the convictions started on April 2014 when £100,825 was recovered from a car, driven by Fateh Azizi, in Winson Green, Birmingham.
By May, a Brazilian and two Spanish nationals were recruited by Christopher Turton and Dale Wright to begin adapting a VW Caddy and two other vehicles with special voids to hide drugs and cash.
The same month, £100,985 recovered from a Citroen Picasso, driven by Robert Durant, on the M1 at Leicester. Durant had received the money from Ali Mendley, who in turn worked for Nottingham amphetamine dealer Daniel Yeboah. Durant was on his way to new ‘banker’ Baber Khan in Milton Keynes, in lieu of their exposed Birmingham 'arrangement'.
It was suspected that over a period of a few months more than £1 million was laundered through Birmingham-based handlers Fateh Azizi and his nephew Hiva Mahmoudi.
Further seizures were made in vans in Skegby, Banbury in Oxfordshire until August 2015 when 167kgs of cocaine worth more than £7 million was seized from a car driven by Lee Krokoszynski in Portugal prompting Ballantine to dismantle and destroy Krokoszynski’s VW Caddy tand with it, the evidence of the secret compartment.
In February 2015 the gang were arrested for their parts in the conspiracy. In total, 22 people were arrested in organised raids over a period of four days, with more than 300 law enforcement officers from the police and NCA conducting multiple search warrants thought the country.
The NCA investigation into another crime group based in the Nottinghamshire area recovered 13kgs of heroin, 28.5kgs of amphetamine, 12kgs of MDMA, £9,000 cash and an industrial pill press. Eight men were later sentenced in February 2016 at Nottingham Crown Court to a total of 80 years in jail for Class A and B drug offences.
Turton was shot in the groin in a Sutton-in-Ashfield street in October 2014 - he refused to co-operate with police and the case remains undetected.