A husband and wife who were part of a Peterborough family-run drugs business jailed last year face a further combined 28 months in prison unless they hand over more than £100,000 to the authorities.
A Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing held at Peterborough Crown Court on Thursday ordered husband and wife duo, Xhejni Mucaj, 31, and Christiana Sopikou, 25, to pay £109,057.31 or face the extra time in jail. They will still have to pay the money.
Part of the cash raised by the POCA is channelled back into the prosecuting police force but can also be shared with the Crown Prosecution Service and the Home Office.
A ‘joint benefit order’ (effectively means all involved in the crime are equally responsible) of £2,794,881.47 was sought in relation to the couple, along with Xhejni’s father – Bahri Mucaj – and sister – Sabina Mucaj – after they were convicted of drugs offences and money laundering last year.
The POCA hearing found Xhejni had a total of £89,693.93 in available assets, including £53,730 in cash, £20,263.93 in a bank account, two Rolex watches worth £11,000 each, a Rolex watch strap worth £700, and a personal number plate worth £4,000.
His wife’s available assets amounted to £19,363.38, including Chanel earrings, a Louis Vuitton handbag, and a Mercedes.
The hearing found both Sabina, 27, and Bahri, 63, had no available assets, therefore a £1 nominal order was made.
The family-run drugs business was uncovered by detectives in 2020 after one of the family’s drugs ‘runners’ was found with seven bags of cannabis and 39 bags of cocaine in his car on the A47 in Peterborough.
Enquiries led officers to Xhejni who was arrested at his home in Hartley Avenue, Fengate, along with his wife and sister after a warrant was executed on 25 March 2021.
A warrant was carried out simultaneously at a flat occupied by Xhejni’s father in Viersen Platz, Peterborough city centre, where £50,000 in cash and up to £50,000 worth of cocaine was discovered.
Detectives also discovered a bank account used by the family, which was found to have had almost £250,000 turnover between December 2018 and February 2021 – £200,000 of which was directly attributed to drugs payments.
Xhejni was charged with being concerned in the supply of cocaine and cannabis, as well as conspiracy to conceal criminal property – namely money laundering, all of which he admitted in court.
Christiana, Sabina and Bahri were all charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis, as well as conspiracy to conceal criminal property – namely money laundering.
Christiana admitted the offences, while Sabina and Bahri denied them but were found guilty following a trial at Peterborough Crown Court in November 2021.
On 11 April last year, all four appeared at Peterborough Crown Court where they were sentenced as follows:
- Xhejni Mucaj, of Hartley Avenue, Fengate – jailed for seven years and six months
- Christiana Sopikou, of Hartley Avenue, Fengate – jailed for six years and five months
- Bahri Mucaj, of Oatfield Street, Glasgow – jailed for seven years
- Sabina Mucaj, of Freston, Paston – jailed for nine years
Detective Constable Andy Macdonald, who investigated with support from the Regional Organised Crime Unit’s (ROCU’s) financial investigation team, said: “This was a long and complex investigation to uncover the Mucaj family’s criminal business which turned over a lot of money in a short period of time.
“Through many, many hours of investigation, we managed to take out a significant drugs line in Peterborough and put those behind it in prison for a considerable amount of time, as well as stripping them of their financial gains.”
Further information about the investigation can be found on the news section of the force website.
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