Criminal gang jailed for importing khat into United States

The gang was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court

The gang was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court

First published in News
Last updated
Croydon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Chief reporter

A Croydon couple who were suspected of bankrolling terrorists through the illegal sale of an East African stimulant have been jailed.

Lelah Ali and her husband Adrian Wall, were arrested by detectives from the Counter Terrorism Command on May 1, 2012, accused of smuggling the drug khat into the United States.

And in September last year the couple, of Pitt Road, Thornton Heath, pleaded guilty to customs offences, namely producing documents which mis-described the contents of parcels which were being sent to USA.

Money laundering offences were ordered to lie on file.

They were sentenced to 18 months imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court on December 13.

Details of their sentences have just been released by police after the conclusion of the trial of Sharif Ali, aged 47, from Coventry, and Daud Ali, aged 42, from Cardiff, at the same court.

They were both found guilty of conspiracy to commit offences under section 167 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.

Daud Ali was sentence to 20 months imprisonment and Sharif Ali was jailed for 17 months.

Detectives arrested nine people in connection to the investigation between May and July 2012 and searched a number of addresses in London, Cardiff, Worthing and Coventry.

The two men were part of a criminal network in the UK and US involved in the sale of khat; a stimulant drug grown in Africa.

It is currently not illegal in the UK. However, it is prohibited in the US.

Between 2009 and 2012 the men - along with Lelah Ali and Adrian Wall and three other individuals who previously pleaded guilty to the offences - conspired together to export khat to the US hidden in mislabelled parcels, often wrapped in material to keep it fresh.

Khat is sold on the black market in the US for almost 20 times the value it is sold in the UK.

The three other individuals involved, Hersi Farah, aged 48, from Willesden Green, Warsame Nuur, aged 48, from Coventry, and Osman Ali Said, aged 43, from Ladbroke Grove, all admitted being involved in the plot.

The criminal network is believed to have received an estimated $2.6 million from the sale of the stimulant in three years.

They were sending parcels to two US citizens, who pleaded guilty and were sentenced in the US to conspiracy to distribute and to possessing with intent to distribute, cathinone (the active chemical ingredient in Khat) between September 2005 and May 2011.

 

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