"Mohammad and Chowdhury sought to profit financially from the loss of others"
Two men from London were each sentenced to five years in prison on August 28, 2019, after they were connected to a £1 million organised crime network.
Both men were found guilty at Blackfriars Crown Court on August 14, 2019, following a trial.
The convictions follow an investigation by Met Police officers from Operation Venice, a team dedicated to reducing moped-enabled crime in London.
On April 7, 2018, a person on a moped committed a mobile phone snatch theft in St John’s Wood.
But the victim enabled an anti-theft app that he had installed on his phone. This allowed him to remotely track it, take photos and make audio recordings.
Jurors heard numerous audio clips where Niaz Mohammad was heard bargaining for a package of 16 stolen mobile phones.
The victim also used the app to take photos of suspected stolen phones inside a bag, an image of Mohammad dismantling the phones and a photo of Mohammad as he was removing the sim card from the victims’ stolen phone.
On September 12, 2018, warrants were executed at Mohammad’s home, family address, private business and a cargo shipping retailer.
Officers discovered notebooks at his business address. They contained the details of hundreds of mobile phones and prices.
At the cargo shipping retailer, records were obtained showing that over several years, Mohammad had shipped thousands of phones, computers and laptops.
The organised crime network was believed to be worth over £1 million.
Officers were soon led to Afiqur Chowdhury, who was associated with the network. He handled stolen equipment and laundered the funds made from sales.
Chowdhury’s bank accounts were analysed. Between 2012 and 2018, he received £410,223.42 in cash and other credits.
This is despite him declaring his gross income being £8,000 during that period and no record of him being employed.
East London Advertiser reported that a warrant was executed at Chowdhury’s address where he was arrested.
A similar notebook containing phones with prices was discovered. Several phones and items later confirmed to have been stolen were also found.
Mohammad, aged 29, of Bethnal Green, was found guilty of conspiracy to receive stolen goods, acquiring criminal property, and concealing, disguising, converting, transferring, removing from the UK criminal property.
Chowdhury, aged 29, of South Woodford, was found guilty of conspiracy to receive stolen goods, money laundering and possession of criminal property.
Detective Inspector Steven Brownlee, of the Operation Venice investigation team, said:
“Mohammad and Chowdhury sought to profit financially from the loss of others by handling and selling on what they knew to be stolen phones, many of which would have been obtained as a result of robberies and thefts.
“Their illegal business would have created a demand for stolen phones, which would have in turn contributed to more crime and facilitated others from profiting from it.
“The investigation showed that they were the main players in a handling ring that generated hundreds of thousands of pounds in criminal revenue.”
“The jail sentences they have received reflect the severity of their offending.
“Operation Venice officers are working day in, day out to tackle moped-enabled crime and catch offenders.
“In this case, our investigation took us beyond those stealing the phones.”