Money laundering kingpin who got Kim Kardashian lookalike, 31, and 35 others to fly more than £100m cash to Dubai jailed | The Sun
A KINGPIN who headed up Britain's biggest ever money-laundering gang alongside a Kim Kardashian lookalike has been caged after his “colossal” criminal enterprise was brought down by cops.
Abdulla Alfalasi, 47, paid mules between £3,000-£8,000 to smuggle an eye-watering £104m in dirty cash out the UK to Dubai.
The Emirati national was sentenced to nine years and seven months behind bars on Thursday after his empire and "considerable network" was exposed when a mule was nicked at Heathrow.
Tara Hanlon, 31, was stopped at the airport on October 3, 2020, carrying bank notes totalling £1.9m in five separate suitcases.
She told a customs official she had five bags because she was on a "girls' trip" and "couldn't decide what to wear".
The recruitment consultant, who boasted of a "perfect life" propped up by a £3,000 pay packet per trip, also admitted to smuggling another £3.5m out of Britain.
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Before Hanlon admitted her guilt, her grandmother Maureen Downs, 80, told the MailOnline: "She wanted to look like that [Kim] Kardashian woman and she had her lips done like her."
She was handed a three-year-prison sentence at Isleworth Crown Court last year for her role in Alfalasi's gang in 2020.
Sentencing Alfalasi at Isleworth crown court in West London, Judge Davis said: "There is no doubt that this was a considerable network under your charge.
"Not your sole charge, you were a principal, but it is clear that there were others involved.
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"You were involved in facilitating the removal of a vast amount of cash from this country, through Heathrow airport, to Dubai."
The court heard how dirty money came from organised crime and drug dealing, as well as other other sources.
But the gangster used his firm, Omnivest Gold Trading, as a cover when he declared the cash in Dubai.
Alfalasi personally ferried a total of £6m on 10 trips before recruiting dozens of mules.
The prosecutor, Julian Christopher QC, said Alfalasi recruited couriers, “typically young people, attracted by money”.
They would travel on business class flights, making use of the additional luggage allowance, he added.
Up to £500,000 of vacuumed wads of cash were stuffed into each suitcase and ferried through Heathrow Airport between April 2019 and November 2020.
They weighed up to 40kg each.
The mobster made sure cases were packed with anything from coffee grounds to air fresheners to evade detection by sniffer dogs.
While mouthwash and clothes hangers were used to fool X-ray machines from spotting the cash.
Mules would then take empty suitcases back to the UK before making a return trip to the Middle East nation.
A total of 83 trips were made to Dubai before Alfalasi's empire crumbled.
He was arrested at a flat in London's ultra-exclusive Belgravia, where the average home costs over £3 million, on December 14 last year.
In November 2020 Czech national Zdenek Kamaryt, 39, was busted with £1.3m of cash in his bags as he tried to board a flight from London to Dubai.
He was smacked with a two year and 10 month prison sentence for his role in the laundering empire.
Other couriers included Nicola Esson, 55, from Leeds, West Yorkshire, arrested in an NCA raid in May 2021, and Muhammad Ilyas, 29, from Slough, Berkshire, nicked in February 2020.
Both have pleaded guilty to removing criminal property and are waiting sentencing.
A total of 35 mules were involved in Alfalasi's operation.
Brit Michelle Clarke, who allegedly helped recruit the mules, is wanted by the NCA and is believed to be hiding out in Dubai.
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John Werhun, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This is one of the largest money-laundering cases the CPS has ever prosecuted to date.
"A colossal amount of dirty money, totalling £104m, was transported to Dubai under Alfalasi’s instructions.”
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