Both men were part of an organised criminal network (OCN) who engaged in an online conspiracy to supply Class A drugs across the United Kingdom via the dark web and social media apps. As a result of the arrests, more than £100,000 in cash and cryptocurrencies were recovered.
Jehanzeb Amar, 29 , of Staines Road, Hounslow, was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday 28 April to a total of 13-and-a-half years’ imprisonment.
He had pleaded guilty at the same court at an earlier hearing to three counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and one count of acquiring criminal property.
Salahydin Warsame, 29, of Coventry Road, Birmingham, was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court to a total of 10-and-a-half years’ imprisonment.
He had also pleaded guilty at the same court to three counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and one count of acquiring criminal property.
In February 2020, detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime South Command instigated an intelligence led investigation into the supply of Class A drugs via online social media sites under the user name ‘LetsWork.’
The OCN used a secure communication application to advertise Class A drugs such as cocaine, MDMA and LSD online.
Cocaine could be bought in quantities ranging from one gram to kilo quantity amounts. The app they used had more than 1,000 subscribers and payment for the drugs was requested via cryptocurrencies. They even set up an automated ‘bot’ to take the orders from the customers. The app gave their ‘customers’ regular updates such as apologising for supply issues during the Covid-19 pandemic. They posted pictures of kilo blocks of cocaine with their trade mark LW (LetsWork) brand to showcase their products to the customers and establish themselves as a trusted online seller.
On 20 July 2020, Specialist Crime South officers, supported by the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit and the Met’s Cyber Crime Unit, stopped Warsame driving a VW Caddy van in Birmingham close to a Post Office. He was found in possession of 61 packages containing Class A drugs addressed to recipients in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland that he was about to post.
He was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and a search of his van resulted in the discovery of a sophisticated remote controlled hydraulic hide. This was accessed and one kilo of heroin was found and a quarter of a kilo of cocaine seized.
Officers executed a simultaneous warrant at the safe house on Coventry Road in Birmingham, where Amar was found preparing a further 20 drugs packages. He was arrested for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
A search of the premises revealed a kilo of cocaine, 2,000 LSD tablets, cutting agents, mobile phones, crypto wallets, laptops, a labelling printer, drugs packaging and jiffy bags associated with the supply, and a large quantity of cash. At an apartment on School Lane in Solihull, linked to Amar, officers recovered further crypto wallets, cash and electronic devices linked to the OCN.
Amar and Warsame were charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and Proceeds of Crime Act offences and were remanded in custody by the court.
A total of £32,850 in cash and £71,038.29 in cryptocurrency was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act. An analysis of the cryptocurrency accounts linked to ‘LetsWork’ identified that £3.7million had been received by ‘LetsWork’ through their cryptocurrency accounts during this criminal enterprise.
A financial investigation by the Met’s Economic Crime Team identified Amar’s personal bank account receiving £140,314.34 from the proceeds of the cryptocurrency.
A further asset confiscation hearing will be listed in due course at the court.
Detective Sergeant Damian Hill, from the Met’s Specialist Crime South Command, said: “The Met is committed to tackling organised crime, whether carried out in the conventional way or online. I am extremely pleased with the sentences and the disruption of this criminal network.
“Amar and Warsame mistakenly believed that they could act with impunity carrying out this multi-million pound drug enterprise online. My team worked closely with the Met’s Economic Crime Team and the Cyber Crime Unit who have the capability to tackle organised crime of this type carried out over the dark web and social media apps.
“Anyone considering ordering illegal drugs online using cryptocurrencies should be aware they are not doing this anonymously and are at risk of prosecution as well as leaving themselves vulnerable to the organised criminal networks whom they have provided their names and home addresses to.”