Leeds Woman Jailed Over Bid To Smuggle £2 Million Cash Out Of UK

A 30-year-old Leeds woman, Tara Hanlon has been jailed for almost three years after she was caught trying to smuggle almost £2 million cash out of the UK in her suitcases.

The National Crime Agency’s investigation into Tara Hanlon began in October 2020 after she was stopped from boarding a flight from Heathrow to Dubai.

She initially denied having any cash on her, but Border Force officers found the money in vacuum-packed bundles, stuffed inside her five checked-in suitcases. Hanlon was arrested for money laundering.

The bundles were covered in coffee, in an apparent attempt to disguise them from being picked up by sniffer dogs.

NCA investigators were able to trace her travel patterns over the previous months and found that she had made three other trips in July and August 2020.

Inquiries with the Dubai authorities showed that on each occasion she had declared she was carrying more than a million pounds in cash upon arrival, totalling £3.5 million.

In interviews with NCA officers, she admitted being driven to a hotel in London to pick up the cases and was having her flight and hotel bills paid for.

Text messages found on her phones by NCA investigators indicated she was being paid around £3 000 for each trip.

In messages to a contact, she bragged, “3 big ones…with this wage and the next my debts go bye.”

Other messages also indicated she was looking to recruit other couriers, referring to the job as a “…perfect life a few days in the sun and a few at home.”

Hanlon later admitted money laundering charges, and on Monday 26 July a judge at Isleworth Crown Court sentenced her to 34 months in prison.

NCA senior investigating officer Ian Truby said the money undoubtedly came from organised crime. Truby added that Hanlon’s story is a cautionary one for others who would consider doing the same.

Following the arrest of Hanlon, a number of other cash couriers were identified suspected of being linked to the same money-laundering network.

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