UK’s Business Class Passengers Smuggle $130 Million to Dubai

UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has revealed that a network, which used to smuggle millions of pounds in cash to Dubai via business class flights, has been convicted.

According to the NCA, the UK-based money laundering gang smuggled around £104 million ($130 million) to Dubai, and it has been convicted with the help of UAE authorities.

On Tuesday, a UK court found Beatrice Auty, Jonathan Johnson, and Jo Emma Larvin guilty of smuggling money. The gang smuggled cash hidden inside suitcases from the UK to Dubai on 83 separate flights between November 2019 and October 2020.

The network was led by its ringleader, Abdullah Alfalsi, who was sentenced to over nine years of imprisonment in July 2022.

Director National Economic Crime Centre at NCA Adrian Searle remarked that money laundering of this scale allows criminals and corrupt elites to whitewash their illegally earned cash.

He noted that cash smugglers are handled by International Controller Networks that help smuggle money gained from drug trafficking, human trafficking, and scams.

According to reports, the gang had a WhatsApp group called Sunshine and Lollipops to coordinate. The convicts were paid around $3,700 for each journey and flew on business class flights because of additional luggage allowance.

The smugglers collected cash, believed to be profits from drug dealing, from criminals. The money was vacuum packed and split into suitcases, with each suitcase containing around $625,000 and weighing 40 kg.

To avoid detection by Border Force detection dogs, the suitcases were sprayed with coffee or air fresheners.

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