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Traffickers jailed after rucksack handover, fake IDs and money laundering

Two drug traffickers have been jailed following an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Albanians Erbline Hoxhaj, 27 and Besjan Mustafaj, 23, were handed sentences at Birmingham Crown Court last Thursday of 9 years 4 months and 5 years 8 months in prison.

Hoxhaj had been watched by NCA officers in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham getting in to the back of a white Audi A6 empty-handed before leaving with a black Adidas rucksack.

He returned to his white Peugeot Bipper van and drove away. Officers stopped and arrested him at the junction of Cannon Hill and Edgbaston Road.

On seizing his rucksack, officer found 4kg of high-purity cocaine in it with a value to organised crime of £140,000, or £480,000 cut and sold.

A search of the van revealed a custom-made hidden compartment (pictured) which could be unlocked via a concealed button in the centre console, though the compartment was empty.

Hoxhaj was senetenced to 8 years 4 months for conspiracy to supply class A drugs and one year for possessing a false ID document with improper intent to run consecutively.

Mustafaj, in the Audi, had travelled from London in order to hand over the drugs. After the handover officers followed him to a petrol station and arrested him.

Mustafaj admitted his name was different to the one on his ID and that he was not Romanian as it said. He confessed later that both documents were forgeries he had bought in Italy.

He was sentenced to 4 years 8 months for the conspiracy charge and a year for possessing  a false ID to run consecutively.

Recorder Anne Brown said Hoxhaj had played the "leading role" and that there was a "logical inference" that he was organising "a large quantity of drugs to sell at wholesale level".

She said she believed Mustafaj had played a "lesser role" as a "one-off courier".

The NCA ws granted a forfeiture order on Hoxhaj's Bipper van and £640 in cash found on Mustafaj.

Both men had pleaded guilty to the offences at Birmingham Crown Court in February.

Jim Cook, operations manager at the NCA, said: “The four kg of cocaine we seized would have been sold on, cut and sold on again to fund more criminal activity. We intervened at the beginning of a chain of harm.

“Taking drugs out of the criminal marketplace removes vital revenue from organised crime groups and limits their activity.

“The NCA will continue to use its specialist capabilities to detect and disrupt organised crime groups concerned in the movement of large quantities of drugs.”

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