NCA uncovers £17M property portfolio bought using criminal cash
An eight-year investigation by the National Crime Squad has resulted in the recovery of 59 properties worth £17 million that were paid for using the proceeds of crime including heroin importation and distribution, fraud and money laundering by an organised crime gang.
The NCA also conducted four additional linked civil recovery investigations over an eight-and-a-half year period into dozens of individuals who were suspected of financial links to drug dealers in East Birmingham.
Organised crime gang members Alam and Ameran Zeb Khan, have both been convicted of drug trafficking offences, the former on three occasions.
The civil recovery investigations found that they would use family members and wider associates to hold properties on their behalf, which was designed to conceal and launder the proceeds of their unlawful conduct.
The majority of the 59 properties recovered were private residential properties, which were rented out in the Bordesley Green or Selly Oak areas of Birmingham. Three properties were located in Bangor in Northern Ireland.
Larger properties recovered included a house worth £235,000 on Stoney Lane in Birmingham, that was being renovated as the Zeb Khan family home. One premises was a commercial building on Cherrywood Road that was converted into a gym called Rampage Fitness. Two properties consisted of seven and five apartments respectively.
Significant damage was caused to several of the properties prior to the NCA taking control of them, however this did not ultimately interfere with their sale.
The NCA adopted the first civil investigation into the Organised Crime Group following a referral from the Police Service of Northern Ireland in December 2011.
This initial investigation led to the NCA recovering 11 properties and cash from two bank accounts totalling £1.75 million on 20 January 2017, after Ameran and Aurang Zeb Khan and their associates failed to refute allegations that cash and assets were the proceeds of crime.
In July 2014, the NCA’s criminal investigation into the organised crime group started when Border Force officers intercepted a container of industrial lathes to find 165kg of heroin, worth approximately £5m uncut, concealed inside.
NCA investigators uncovered a criminal conspiracy to import heroin from Pakistan, and a group of eight men, including ringleader Ameran Zeb Khan, were imprisoned for a total of 139 years and four months at Birmingham Crown Court on 14 July 2017.
On 31 October 2016, a second civil investigation resulted in the NCA recovering 11 properties valued at £1.8 million from Riaz Ali Shah, Namit Ali Khan and their associates. The two men were businessmen who were believed to be laundering money for the group. They were associates of Alam Zeb Khan.
Two properties in Selly Park and Solihull worth £900,000 were then recovered from associates of Alam and Ameran Zeb Khan following a court order on 10 July 2018.
A further recovery order was granted in November 2018, for 33 properties with a total value of £12.5 million.
On 28 June 2019, a final recovery order was granted over two further properties in Yardley and Bordesley Green.
The NCA is in the process of selling the last of these properties. The penultimate property has been sold for £265,000 on Cherington Road, Birmingham.
Proceeds from the sales of recovered assets are paid into the public purse.