A mother who tried to hide thousands of pounds in a pair of tights wrapped around her body has been found guilty of attempting to smuggle money out of the UK.
Suzanna Sokolli, 57, and her son Xhino Mata, 24, from Albania were both imprisoned after appearing at Canterbury Crown Court on Wednesday, 5 September 2018. The jury unanimously found them guilty of attempting to conceal a large sum of money and leave the country.
Sokolli was jailed for three years and Mata will serve three and a half years behind bars.
The mother and son were stopped in a silver Volkswagen Golf at the Port of Dover on Thursday 5 April 2018.
On arrival at the port the pair were asked if they were taking large amounts of cash outside of the UK. Mata, who said he was travelling to France and Milan, replied that he had £7,000 and produced a bag full of banknotes.
The car was searched and a handbag was located that was found to contain several large bundles of cash concealed in the lining. The officer then searched Sokolli and found more cash concealed in a pair of beige tights wrapped around her waist.
Sokolli claimed the hidden money was her life savings and said she was hoping to use it to start a business. She said she had brought the money with her as she had previously been robbed and felt it was safer to have it on her person.
On conclusion of the search, officers had seized over £40,000 from the pair. A quarter of the cash was in Scottish pound notes with the remainder of the cash in pound Sterling.
Police also seized a mobile phone belonging to Mata and upon downloading pictures from the device found photos of bundles of cash.
Detective Chief Inspector Lee Morton of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: ‘Neither Mata nor Sokolli could come up with a plausible reason as to why they were carrying so much cash. We believe it was ill-gotten and the proceeds of criminality.
‘Smuggling cash out of the UK is another method employed by organised crime groups to hide their illegal activities. This is why it is so important that we target those who attempt to do so, as the money is usually linked to crimes such as drug-dealing and people trafficking that cause misery in our communities.
‘We will now make an application under the Proceeds of Crime Act to ensure the pair do not reap the financial rewards of money that has been gained unlawfully.’