Gang Led by Amir Khan Sold 40KG Cocaine and Made £3M of cryptocurrency Jailed for 88 years

Eleven members of a crime gang who turned an estimated 40 kilograms of cocaine into £3 million of cryptocurrency have been ‘brought to justice’ and handed a prison sentence of more than 88-years. 

Leaders of the organised crime gang (OCG) Amir Khan, 30, from Cardiff, and Joshua Billingham, 26, from Caerphilly, both pleaded guilty and were sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court last week.

The investigation into the OCG – dubbed Operation Solano – found the pair had family and friends launder £4.6million by using the Coinbase crypto exchange, while they were in prison.

Khan was sentenced to 20 years and seven months imprisonment for offences including conspiracy to supply drugs including cocaine, Ecstasy and ketamine, and conspiracy to convert criminal property.

Billingham was jailed for 14 years and eight months for his part in the cocaine conspiracy. 

Judge Jeremy Jenkins described Khan’s criminality as ‘truly staggering’. 

In his sentencing remarks, the judge said: ‘Drugs with a street value of £4.6million were generated as a result and no less 40kg of pure cocaine was traded.’

‘In all, this operation was concerned with 12 individuals which gives some indication of the scale of the operation. A specific communication system EncroChat was deployed by many coconspirators who falsely believed they were safe in the execution of their trade,’ he added. 

Other members of the gang included Billingham’s partner, Stacey Challenger, 29, from Caerphilly, who was sentenced to 12 months for laundering more than £300,000 and conspiring to launder money using cryptocurrency.

The couple’s Caerphilly home was raided by police who found designer clothes worth more than £10,000, a money counting machine, and a Range Rover outside. 

Khan’s partner, Caitlin De Jager, 24, from Cardiff, received a sentence of four years and four months for supplying class A drugs and conspiracy to convert criminal property. 

De Jager’s home with Khan in Gabalfa was also raided by police designer goods worth £100,000 were found at the property, in addition to a voice activated recorder which revealed De Jager assisting in the adulteration of cocaine and distribution.

She was sentenced to four years and four months imprisonment for money laundering and being concerned in the supply of class A drugs.

Sidra Khan, 28, from Birmingham – Amir Khan’s younger sister – was also involved in the gang. She was

given an 18-month suspended sentence for conspiracy to convert criminal property.

The remaining members of the gang included, Joshua Collins, 26, of no fixed abode, who was sentenced to seven years and eight months for conspiracy to supply drugs and conspiracy to convert criminal property. 

Leon Sullivan, 26, from Caerphilly, who received 11 years and four months for conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Callum Richards, 26, from Caerphilly, was given a nine-and-a-half year sentence for conspiracy to supply class A drugs and possessing class A drugs with intent to supply. 

Darryl Skym, 28, from Caerphilly, was handed 10 years for conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Matthew Dean, 35, from Caerphilly, was jailed for fours years and three months for conspiracy to supply class A drugs and possessing class A drugs.

Sami Rehman, 28, from Cardiff, was given 18 months for conspiracy to convert criminal property.

Ian Kidley, 24, from Caerphilly, was sentenced to two years for conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Detective constable Michael Coles, who led the investigation, said he was ‘delighted’ by the sentences issued on Thursday and Friday last week,and he hopes they serve as a deterrent to others. 

He said the sentences were the culmination of ‘more than two years of meticulous work to disrupt, dismantle and bring this organised crime group to justice’. 

DC Coles, of Gwent Police, added: ‘The group operated on a hierarchical basis, sourcing vast amounts of cocaine and relied on the help of close friends and associates to distribute the drugs to dealers in south and mid Wales. 

‘Joshua Billingham and Amir Khan played the leading management role and used friends and family to launder the money obtained through drugs to cryptocurrency accounts in their names.

‘The court heard how the group used stash houses and industrial units to store, mix and supply their drugs. Between them, they supplied more than 40 kilograms of cocaine, a street value of £4.6million, to drug dealers across Wales. The total value of cryptocurrency that passed through the OCG’s accounts was more than £3million.

‘This is one of the first cases in Gwent where cryptocurrency was used to launder money. Due to the hard work and expertise of our cyber crime unit, we were able to trace the money and bring these offenders to justice.’