Boxing legend Joe Calzaghe's model ex-girlfriend faces jail after being convicted of stashing £5million cash in her luggage to Dubai as part of a smuggling ring.
An illicit network of money runners managed to sneak more than £104 million in cash out of the UK using suitcases on luxury flights in less than a year.
Jo Emma Larvin, 44, was part of the “Sunshine and lollipops” network, as the smugglers called their WhatsApp group, snuck the massive amount of cash to Dubai over 83 separate trips between November 2019 and October 2020.
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The retired boxing champion's ex, Larvin her current partner Jonathan Johnson, 55, Beatrice Auty, 26, and Amy Harrison, 27, were all found guilty of money laundering by a jury following a trial at Isleworth Crown Court on Wednesday.
Six more were previously convicted for working with the smuggler network, which was overseen by 47-year-old Abdulla Alfalsi, who was jailed for more than nine years in July last year.
One convicted smuggler, 30-year old Megan Reeves from Doncaster, previously claimed that she was on a “girly trip” with her friend, but “communications” showed she intended to make 13 trips to clear debts of £39,000.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) said that several more smugglers remain under investigation.
The agency, the UK equivalent of the US’ FBI, said that the smugglers were paid about £3,000 per trip and would be booked on business class flights to make use of the extra luggage allowances.
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The NCA’s investigators found that the smugglers would collect tainted cash from criminal groups up and down the country, most of which was believed to be the profits of drug dealing, and used rented flats in central London to count the cash.
The money would then be vacuum sealed and put into suitcases, each of which would weigh up to 40kg and typically carry around £500,000.
Amazingly, the suitcases would then be sprayed with coffee or air fresheners to prevent border force detection dogs from sniffing the illegal cash out.
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Adrian Searle, director of the National Economic Crime Centre in the NCA, said:
“The laundering of such vast quantities of cash around the globe enables organised criminals and corrupt elites to clean or hide their ill-gotten gains.
“The criminality this enables costs the UK billions every year, causes misery and ruins lives across the world.”
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