BIRMINGHAM: Three Birmingham brothers have been ordered to pay back more than £1 million after police in the West Midlands proved they’d funnelled drugs money into family bank accounts.
Sakander Riaz, formerly of Belchers Lane in Bordesley Green, was jailed for 13-and-a-half years in 2016 for his part in a major heroin importation network from Pakistan to the UK – much of which was destined for the streets of Birmingham.
According to West Midlands Police, brothers Asif and Saqib Riaz were also jailed for five and four years, respectively, in March last year for money laundering after detectives found they’d passed crime profits through their bank accounts.
Some of the drugs money was used to pay off the mortgage and make significant renovation improvements to the family home and buy luxury cars fitted with personalised number plates.
Investigators from the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) also found images on Saqib Riaz’s phone showing an overseas villa under construction, while £80,000 in cash was uncovered during a search of the family home.
Officers from ROCU’s Regional Asset Recovery Team launched a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) investigation in a bid to claw back money and assets the crooked family had amassed through their criminal enterprise. And at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday (25 Feb) a judge ordered the brothers to repay £1.3 million or face more time behind bars.
They must repay £400,000 in the next three months or Sakander, Asif and Saqib will spend an extra 36, 18 and four months, respectively, behind bars.
The rest of the POCA debt will hang over them for life and police can seize any cash or assets they accrue in the future.
ROCU Detective Chief Inspector Ronan Tyrer, said: “Around £500,000 was paid into the family bank accounts despite them having not declared income. They were making high-end purchases, extending their home and making major improvements – and all funded through drug money and others’ suffering.
“It’s important that police go after offenders even after they have been convicted in order to recoup any ill-gotten gains and illustrate our determination that crime doesn’t pay.
“The money recovered through POCA is used to pay for crime prevention and crime-fighting schemes, plus local community projects.”
Sakander Riaz was one of seven men involved in the heroin smuggling scam that saw drugs concealed in packages shipped in from Pakistan, including consignments of children’s clothing.
In 2016, the group were jailed for a combined total of almost 70 years.
Anyone with information about suspected drug dealing in their neighbourhood should call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 111 555. To speak to police officers instead, call 101.