Trafficking gang laundered millions through Vietnamese student accounts and nail bars

The gang received sentences totalling 15 years. Credit: Eastern Region Special Operations Unit.

Five members of a human trafficking gang which laundered £4m through student bank accounts and nail bars have been sentenced.

Their international criminal operation used Vietnamese students at a British university to receive millions of pounds of cash directly into their bank accounts.

This money was then transferred to other Vietnamese nationals in the UK who were running businesses exporting clothes to Vietnam.

Some of the money was also being laundered through nail bars, said the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), which uncovered the ring.

The investigation found financial offences worth just under £4.2m.

The funds came from criminal activity such as Vietnamese nationals in France being charged between £7,000 and £11,500 to be transported illegally into the UK.

Some of these were then offered as "workers" to support cannabis production operations.

After an investigation by ERSOU, warrants were executed across the country in Birmingham, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Leicester, London and Wales.

Det Con Paul Gillick from the unit said: “This was a major, highly sophisticated operation which attempted to conceal large sums of criminal cash across international borders.

“These gangs are desperate for people to help them avoid detection and move their money. People need to be wise to this and know that ignorance is no excuse: if you are caught doing this, there is a very strong chance you will go to prison.”

Geraldo Baci

One of those arrested was Geraldo Baci, who was identified as having been supplied with workers for his cannabis operation.

When police raided his home address, officers seized cannabis worth around £25,000 as well as £5,000 in cash.

Baci, 30, from Bedford, was found guilty of possession with intent supply cannabis, possession of criminal property and possession of a controlled article for use in fraud and given a 16-month prison sentence.

My Ha Do

In November, My Ha Do, 31, from London, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cannabis, two counts of converting criminal property and two counts of transferring criminal property, in connection to money laundering offences worth almost £2m.

On Monday at Southwark Crown Court she was given a three year jail term.

After a separate trial in March three other women were also found guilty of significant money laundering offences.

Hanh Tuyet Nguyen

Hanh Tuyet Nguyen, 43, of Dale Road, Shropshire, was found guilty of two counts of concealing criminal property and a further count of converting criminal property.

Thi Ngoc Nguyen, 31, of Broomfield Road, Bristol, was found guilty of transferring criminal property and possession of criminal property.

Thi Phuong Huyen Phan

Thi Phuong Huyen Phan, 35, of Willoughby Road, London, was found guilty of concealing criminal property.

At Monday's sentencing they were given sentences of two years, 18 months, and 10 months suspended for 18 months, respectively.

Ly Thi Hoai Pham

Ly Thi Hoai Pham, 53, of no fixed address, previously pleaded guilty to converting criminal property and conspiring to supply cannabis.

She was jailed for six-and-a-half years.

DC Gillick added: “Organised crime destroys lives. Anyone helping to facilitate it will face the full force of the law."

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