Crime gang jailed for selling counterfeit money, drugs and firearms

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Several members of an organised crime gang involved in the sale of counterfeit currency, drugs and firearms have been jailed.

The investigation into the gang by the City of London Police began in November 2017, after information was received that the group leader, Darren Watkinson, was supplying counterfeit bank notes.

Buyers could purchase counterfeit £20 notes for between £3.50 and £5.80 a note, or counterfeit £50 notes for £12.50 a note, through Watkinson. They would then pick up the counterfeit money from Watkinson’s associates William Fullerton, Mario Abela and Adam Abela (father and son).

During the investigation, officers also established the group had access to cocaine and amphetamine.  Additionally, some members of the gang were conspiring to supply a firearm. This included Barry Latif, who was arrested by armed officers in possession of a revolver.

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On Friday 25 September 2020, the following members of the group were sentenced at Inner London Crown Court after pleading guilty to all charges:

•    Darren Watkinson, 45, of London Road, Essex, was sentenced to 10 years and four months in jail for:
o   conspiracy to have custody or control of a counterfeit note with intent;
o   conspiracy to sell or transfer a firearm;
o   possessing a prohibited weapon (CS gas);  and
o   possessing a controlled drug of Class A with intent.

•    William Fullerton, 38, of Ballinger Point, Bromley, was sentenced to nine years and six months in jail for:
o   conspiracy to have custody or control of a counterfeit note with intent; and
o   conspiracy to sell or transfer a firearm.

•   Adam Abela, 34, of Langland Close, Essex, was sentenced to four years in jail for:
o   conspiracy to have custody or control of a counterfeit note with intent; and
o   possessing a controlled drug of Class B with intent.

•    Mario Abela, 68, of Langland Close, Essex, was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, for:
o   conspiracy to have custody or control of a counterfeit note with intent; and
o   possessing a controlled drug of Class A.

•  Barry Latif, 44, of Chapman Street, Tower Hamlets, was sentenced to seven years in jail on the same date after a previous trial had found him guilty of conspiracy to sell or transfer a firearm and being in possession of a pointed or bladed article. He had pleaded guilty to being in possession of the firearm in a public place.

Detective Constable Sally Prinsloo, who led the investigation for the City of London Police, said: “The City of London Police is committed to disrupting serious and organised crime.

“We worked tirelessly to dismantle this crime group, who were selling counterfeit money, drugs and firearms, with input from our partners at the Bank of England and the National Crime Agency’s Counterfeit Currency Unit (UKNCO).

“Thanks to this proactive police action, a number of dangerous criminals have been jailed, and a large amount of counterfeit notes and a firearm have been taken out of circulation, making our streets and local communities safer.”

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