Two borough men have been sentenced for their roles in a drugs racket involving the use of a cannabis supplier in America and dealing with cryptocurrency. 

An investigation by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) economic crime unit officers led them to believe Mohammed Zubair Issa and Tahir Ejaz were heavily involved in money laundering.

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The first contact between the two happened in 2020, following messages sent on social media platform Snapchat discussing money that is owed to Ejaz.

And in 2021, on Snapchat again, Ejaz was asked to deliver £5,000 to an address in Preston and later discussed the conversion of cash to cryptocurrency, explaining that a cut of money would be given to Issa for his role.

The pair used a cannabis supplier in America, which would provide the drugs to sell on for a profit in the UK.

Snapchat messages showed a number of images of large amounts of cash, and small value notes as well as addresses in America that Issa instructed cash to be collected from or delivered to, and discussed money to be transferred to cryptocurrency to pay their supplier in America.

Ejaz was arrested on July 24 last year on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of Class B drugs and money laundering following a number of warrants executed at addresses associated with him.

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During a search of his property two mobile devices were seized from the bed of Ejaz, and further examination showed another individual who detectives connected to Issa also being heavily involved in an organised crime group. He was laundering large amounts of cash on behalf of and at the request of Ejaz and attempting to purchase cannabis from him to sell.

Financial investigators looked into Issa’s financial status and it was found he claimed his annual income was around £40,000.

However, when detectives assessed all his bank accounts, since January 2019 he received just under £2m in credits. This would mean he would have had to be earning around £500,000 a year.

Alongside this, he purchased a property outright for £300,000 in May 2023 and sent £145,327 to a property developer based in Dubai who sells luxury properties there, showing that he was living well above and beyond any legitimate means.

Issa, of Agecroft Road West, Prestwich, was sentenced to three years and three months after being found guilty of money laundering and Ejaz, of Brandlesholme Road, Bury, was sentenced to three years and six months after being found guilty of supplying Class B drugs after they both appeared at Manchester Crown Court yesterday, Tuesday.

Detective Constable Lee Taylor of Greater Manchester Police's (GMP) economic crime unit, said: “I hope today’s result sends a message to anyone who is involved in the supply of drugs and the laundering of criminal money that we will not tolerate our communities being blighted by this destructive trade and will be knocking on your door soon."

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Detective Inspector Sarah Langley of GMP’s economic crime unit, who leads the money laundering team, said: “As a unit, we will relentlessly pursue anyone we believe is profiting from crime.

"GMP will robustly disrupt serious criminality, and we are determined to continue to bring criminals to justice and remove them from the law-abiding communities that they are harming.

"We act on information and use all powers available to us to secure an arrest, charge and then take a strong case to court for a conviction.

“We want to take this opportunity to issue a warning to criminals, as a unit we push to confiscate and recover any illicit profit through the Proceeds of Crime Act, so that whatever you take, you will have to pay it back.

“I'd like to thank the public for continuing to support our work by reporting fraud, and sharing information.”