Police officer from Harlow jailed after stealing drug dealers’ cash

Crime / Thu 13th May 2021 at 03:46pm

A MET Police officer who pretended to stop and search drug dealers so he could steal their money has been jailed for eight years.

Kashif Mahmood, aged 32, of Woodcroft, Harlow, seized hundreds of thousands of pounds for an organised crime gang controlled from Dubai. 

The gang received information about when money was on the move so that Mahmood could intercept it – in uniform – using police cars.

Four other men and a woman received sentences of up to 16 years.

The sentences follow an investigation which benefited from the penetration of the Encrochat mobile phone network in 2020.

Passing sentence, His Honour Judge Tomlinson said Kashif Mahmood had abused his position of “power, trust and responsibility”.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick called the case “shocking” but said she was “delighted” the Met’s anti corruption officers “were able to mount this operation and to catch those people and to actually have a big impact on an organised criminal network”. 

Of corrupt officers, Dame Cressida added: “They betray the rest of us and we deplore this form of corruption or any corruption.”

The defendants pleaded guilty to offences including acquiring criminal property, money laundering and drug supply.

It was a sophisticated criminal operation based on tip-offs from a shadowy figure in Dubai, named in court as Mutjaba Neazmand. 

Using the code name “SSNew” on the Encrochat network, the court heard he was involved in large-scale drug dealing, but also directing gang members to “steal back” the proceeds. 

Neazmand would contact the gang’s leader in the UK, Mohsin Khan, with information about “jobs” – large amounts of money being carried by drug couriers.

Khan, whose Encrochat nickname was “AcquaPlus” would pass on the details to police officer Kashif Mahmood, who had served in the Met for 10 years. 

Mahmood would book out police cars from Stoke Newington Police station, and pick up an accomplice, Ioan Gherghel, to pose as his partner.

Backed up by Khan and his two brothers, they would then try to stop the couriers and “seize” their money. 

Often the couriers had been given the cash by the Khan gang as part of a drug deal. 

When it was stolen back by the Khans and Mahmood, they were left out of pocket, and at risk of reprisals from their criminal associates. 

The scam was so successful the gang seized more than a million pounds, prosecutors believe. 

By March 2020 “SSNew” or Neazmand, the mastermind in Dubai, was boasting in Encrochat messages that: “We can do 1500m and I still say to u bro we do more.”

“This system is in our hand. We can do it unlimited.” 

Police say Encrochat was almost exclusively used by criminals who communicated freely, believing their conversations were encrypted.

It was penetrated by French police and intelligence agency cyber security experts in early 2020, and, as a result, more than 1,500 suspects have been arrested so far. 

The Khan gang were caught following a number of “jobs”, including one where they inadvertently targeted a drug courier, while he was under police surveillance. 

Prosecutors believe the gang had handed him half a million pounds, in return for drugs.

Mahmood and Gherghel, also dressed as police officers, then stopped the man’s car in Chingford, East London, searched it, and took the money back. 

This meant that the gang now had both the cash and the drugs. 

But surveillance officers belonging to a police proactive money laundering team were, by chance, watching what happened. 

They stopped Mahmood to find out why the search of the target’s car had been carried out, and requested he create an intelligence report. 

Prosecutors said Mahmood was forced to go to his police station, despite being signed off on sick leave to complete the report. 

It was used by police as evidence against him. 

They also analysed extensive mobile phone evidence to build up a picture of the gang’s communications and movements. 

Following arrests, large amounts of cash were found in the conspirators’ homes.

Maria Shah, a partner of one of the gang, and also convicted of being involved, is believed to have withdrawn a large amount of cash from a safety deposit box facility in Knightsbridge, central London. 

When police searched the boxes they were found to be empty.

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