Salma Lalani successfully defended a case that involved substantial quantities of high purity cocaine blocks imported from The Netherlands and concealed in frozen meat. A joint Metropolitan Police and National Crime Agency taskforce estimated importation by the Organised Crime Group of 990kg of cocaine, with a street value in excess of £100 million.
It was alleged that cocaine, concealed in imports, was brought into the UK on numerous separate shipments. From its arrival, it was transported to a cold storage facility where it was held until collection by a lorry to be taken to an industrial unit where the consignments were broken down. During this operation the blocks of high purity cocaine were removed from their concealment, and then distributed to a network of dealers.
The defendant was arrested with a co-defendant following covert surveillance at an industrial unit where 55kg of cocaine blocks were present and being separated from a consignment. The defendant accepted that he was present on a number of such occasions but asserted that he was unaware of the consignment’s illicit contents.
The operation involved seizure of large sums of cash, multiple mobile telephones and other devices, as well as numerous encrypted mobile phones. The prosecution compiled hundreds of pages of cell site maps and schedules from multiple phones across a five month period, which was central to their case, as it enabled them to co-locate the co-defendants on various key dates.
The joint Met and NCA investigation deployed considerable resources, involving cell site, ANPR, satnav downloads, covert surveillance, forensic investigations (fingerprints/DNA) and expert witnesses. The weight of evidence gathered resulted in the co-defendants pleading guilty on the first day of trial.
The defendant was acquitted by a jury following a three-week trial and two days of deliberations.