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Home NEWCASTLE Dark web and crypto currency – how three international drug dealers found themselves behind bars

Dark web and crypto currency – how three international drug dealers found themselves behind bars

Kohi Choudhury, Sabir Ahmed, and Arif Shomel were sentenced for their roles in a conspiracy that resulted in the seizure of £29,000 worth of class A drugs by police in July 2021.

The complicated investigation began in October 2020, when police received intelligence indicating that illegal packages were being sent across the Atlantic.

After two packages were intercepted, the North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU) launched an investigation, which was assisted by Northumbria Police, Border Force, and the National Crime Agency (NCA).

This led police to an address on Stanton Street in Newcastle, where they discovered a sophisticated drug production facility. Over 80 kilogrammes of Class C drugs were recovered, as well as industrial pill presses and other machinery used to manufacture, package, and ship these tablets.

Enquiries quickly led to the discovery of a dark web, crypto currency-led enterprise with a global customer base spanning four continents.

It didn’t take long for forensic investigators to be led straight to ringleader Choudhury. The 26-year-old was later arrested and released while the investigation into the conspiracy continued.

Then, in July 2021, Border Force agents intercepted two more suspicious packages containing Class C drugs that brazen Choudhury had attempted to send to the United States.

This new information prompted additional searches at two additional Newcastle addresses.

Choudhury was arrested again on July 12, 2021, at his home on St Thomas Square, on suspicion of being involved in an offer to supply controlled drugs and his devices, as well as a small quantity of tablets and £12,000 in cash.

Another sophisticated drugs lab was discovered at the second address on Lancaster Street, complete with a large industrial pill press capable of producing up to 5000 high-quality pills per hour, a mixer, grinder, and packaging equipment.

Detectives seized 40,000 tablets and bulking agents, as well as two kilos of crystallised MDMA and ecstasy tablets worth £29,000 on the street.

Choudhury and his co-accused Shomel, 25, and Ahmed, 25, who had previously been arrested during the investigation, were all charged with a variety of drug offences.

Kohi Choudhury, of St Thomas Square in Newcastle, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply a controlled substance, possession of criminal property, money laundering for cryptocurrency, and possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply.

Arif Shomel, of Bentinck Road in Newcastle, and Sabir Ahmed, of Angel View in Benwell, pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply a Class C drug and supplying a psychoactive substance.

They appeared in the same court and were sentenced as follows:

Choudhury was sentenced to 14 years in prison as the operation’s leader and will be released with a three-year Serious Crime Prevention Order.

Ahmed was sentenced to three years and six months in prison, and Shomel was sentenced to two years in prison for their roles in the drug conspiracy.

“This was a very complex investigation into the large-scale supply and distribution of illicit drugs, spanning two continents and multiple law-enforcement agencies, and I am pleased the jury saw through the lies and excuses,” NEROCU Detective Sergeant Hayley Turner-Douglass said after the trial.

We were able to dismantle this international drugs line thanks to excellent partnership working between law enforcement agencies, including officers and staff from Northumbria Police, the National Crime Agency (NCA), UK Border Force, The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and with support from the National County Lines Coordination Centre.

“Through hard work and information sharing among partners, we were able to bring three drug dealers before the courts, putting an end to a sophisticated operation that was producing harmful substances on an industrial scale and profiting thousands of pounds.”

“The group attempted to conceal their criminality behind false identities, legitimate businesses, and innocent individuals, but the investigation team was able to see through this web of deception.”

“Working in collaboration with internal and external partners, as well as information sharing, demonstrates how effective we are at combating serious organised crime, allowing us to bring three drug dealers before the courts, bringing an end to a sophisticated operation that was making thousands of pounds in profit by selling illegal and harmful substances on a large scale.”

“Criminality like this has no place in our communities, and we will not apologise for continuing to crack down on anyone involved in this type of activity.”

“Drug cocktails made by unlicensed, unqualified individuals such as Choudhury can pose a serious risk to anyone who consumes them.” We strongly advise people not to buy drugs online or from the dark web.

“As part of our dedicated initiative Operation Sentinel, we will continue to combat the illegal supply of drugs and dismantle the criminal organisations that supply them.”

Anyone who suspects drug misuse or supply in their area is asked to contact police via our website’s ‘Tell Us Something’ page or by dialling 101. You can also call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously at 0800 555 111.

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