"Afzal sought to conceal, obfuscate and delay at every turn"
The final member of an anabolic steroid smuggling organised crime group has been ordered to hand over assets worth more than £9.8 million following a financial investigation by the National Crime Agency.
Mohammed Afzal, aged 39, of Slough, was jailed for two years in November 2019 after being convicted of conspiring to manufacture anabolic steroids.
He was one of five men convicted.
Beginning in 2014, an NCA investigation identified illegal shipments totalling around 42 tonnes linked to the group.
The raw powder was shipped to the UK by an India-based pharmaceutical company.
In labs run by Afzal, the powder would be converted into liquid form and then sold to bodybuilders and fitness fanatics on the black market.
Afzal initially claimed to only have around £100,000 in assets.
But investigators identified several property and cryptocurrency investments made by him, often involving third parties to disguise them.
On November 17, 2023, a judge at a Central Criminal Court made a Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation order for Afzal’s assets worth £9.825 million.
These include portfolios containing around £7.5 million in cryptocurrency, his share in property investments in Berkshire and London worth around £1 million, and a Mercedes GLS SUV.
It is reportedly the biggest single recovery of cryptocurrency obtained under the Proceeds of Crime Act by the NCA.
If Afzal fails to pay within three months, he will face a further 10 years in prison and still owe the money.
The order means proceeds of crime totalling almost £12 million have now been recovered from the crime group.
In November 2022, fellow gang member Alexander MacGregor was ordered to pay £1.16 million.
Assets belonging to MacGregor included bank accounts and share portfolios, a Porsche 911 GT3 sports car, a Ferrari 458, a Mercedes G Wagon, two Beretta shotguns and several high-value watches.
Ringleader Jacob Sporon-Fielder had already been ordered to hand over more than £700,000.
Gurpal Dhillon was ordered to hand over £167,000 while a confiscation order made against Nathan Selcon meant he had to pay £3,300.
NCA Regional Head of Investigation Rob Burgess said:
“I’m delighted the court has ordered this confiscation.”
“Afzal sought to conceal, obfuscate and delay at every turn during these proceedings in a bid to frustrate them.
“But the NCA’s financial investigation was painstaking and thorough, leading to this large amount being identified, frozen and recovered.
“It demonstrates our determination to go after the proceeds of crime and stop those involved in organised criminality from benefitting financially.”
Tom Cawley of the CPS Proceeds of Crime Division, added:
“This case involved the production and importation of a vast quantity of unlicenced anabolic steroids which in turn generated enormous criminal wealth.
“Collaborative working between the NCA and the CPS led to the successful prosecution of all five members of this destructive operation and asset recovery proceedings were challenging as many of the defendants sought to hide or deny ownership of assets.
“Afzal sought to initially claim his assets were limited to around £70,000 but as a result of tenacious investigative work the NCA and CPS POCD were able to identify and freeze assets held in the UK and overseas, held by him and in the names of third parties to the value of £9.8 million, using the powers available to us under the Proceeds of Crime Act.”
“I am proud of the £11.8 million we have worked hard to retrieve from these defendants and hope today’s confiscation sends a strong message to criminals; there is nowhere to hide from investigation and prosecution.”