LONDON- Three East London organized crime group members have been found guilty of involvement in a drugs operation that saw Class A and B drugs smuggled into sweet potato deliveries from Jamaica to the United Kingdom.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) began its investigation in October 2018, when Metropolitan Police officers working with the NCA seized about 35 kg of cannabis from a car in Hackney.
The drugs were wrapped in sealed packages within the cardboard boxes to transport the sweet potatoes.
The three Asians were held guilty in the Southwark Crown Court on Thursday.
One of them was Kashif Mushtaq, 38, of Romford, who was found to have links to Jamaica. The NCA suspected that Mushtaq had also played a major role in the operation despite being in Pakistan when the drugs were confiscated. He was later arrested after returning to the UK.
The seizure led NCA investigators to a second shipment three months later, in January 2019, when 94 packages containing cocaine and cannabis were found in another load of sweet potatoes on a flight that arrived at Gatwick Airport from Kingston, Jamaica.
The drugs collectively weighed 85.5 kg and would have cost over £3.5 million if sold on UK streets.
NCA teams tracked down a second load of drugs at an industrial estate in Hesse, where boxes were seen being sorted. Officers arrested Atiqq ur Rehman while handing over the boxes to Kingsbury Road in north London. Rahman tried to run away before the officers caught him.
The third man from Hounslow, 48-year-old Sarabjit Chumber, who was suspected of having been involved in the exchange and was in phone contact with the men, was arrested minutes later at Spitalfields Market.