Property developer and mortgage broker Paul Arabskyj, 57, provided financial backing for an operation importing mephedrone and other drugs from China and India, the Telegraph and Argus reported.
When police visited one of his homes, they discovered £116,000 in the boot of his Rolls Royce. One note bore the fingerprints of a known drug supplier.
West Yorkshire Police detective inspector Neil Hollis told the Mirfield Reporter: “The drugs importation would not have been able to take place on the scale that it did without the financial assistance of Arabskyj.”
Referring to Arabskyj and his co-conspirators, he continued: “These men were professionals in mortgage consultancy and accountancy and I hope that this case demonstrates that we will pursue those of all walks of life who are involved in money laundering offences.”
The ringleader of the gang, Bingley-based John Halliday, ran a body building shop called Total Body. However, in addition to supplying body building supplements, he imported and sold ‘legal highs’ such as mephedrone. When these became illegal in 2010, he began smuggling them in instead.
In total, the smugglers imported £1.8m-worth of drugs, which could have been sold on for as much as £13.1m. Originally from China and India, the drugs were repackaged in Greece or Germany and then delivered to the gang in Yorkshire.
Halliday has fled the country and is believed to be in the Philippines. If caught, he faces ten years in prison. In total, sixteen defendants were sentenced to more than 40 years in jail.