The head of a Leeds organised crime group that created a market for crystal meth in Yorkshire is facing a court hearing over a secret Bitcoin account in his name.
Hassan Jalilian – currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for his role in charge of a major drug supply conspiracy – is the subject of a financial investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) to determine how much of his ill-gotten gains he must repay.
Jalilian, 29, was the leading player in the conspiracy to sell crystal meth, cocaine and ecstasy worth tens of thousands of pounds.
Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday how an investigation into Jalilian’s assets was launched following his arrest.
Investigators discovered Jalilian had a Bitcoin account which they expected to contain assets worth around £17,000.
However, when they managed to open the account, it was found to be worth just a few pounds.
Further investigations revealed the account had been emptied shortly before Jalilian was arrested.
The Crown Prosecution Service are seeking to include the original value of the Bitcoin account in the total value of assets available to be seized from the prisoner.
The court heard Jalilian disputes this area of the POCA application.
The case was adjourned to allow evidence to be heard at a further hearing on December 15.
Jalilian was not brought to the court for the brief hearing.
Bitcoin, often described as a cryptocurrency or a digital currency, is a type of money that is completely virtual.
It is like an online version of cash.
It can be used it to buy some products and services but some countries have banned it altogether.
Jalilian was jailed in April 2019 after the court heard how his gang imported crystal meth – one of the most addictive drugs in the world – inside children’s toys from Canada.
He was locked up along with three other gang members for a total of 31 years.
Jalilian attacked two police officers with CS spray in a bid to avoid arrest.
The gang conspired to sell drugs over four months in 2017.
Police recovered drugs valued at £61,000 along with two hunting knives and CS spray.
Jalilian had his photo taken posing topless with wads of cash and his second in command, Michael Bendo, also posed for the camera clutching money.Police found a photograph of a gun and ammunition on Jalilian’s mobile phone and a photo of him posing with a bottle of what he described as ‘napalm.’
Jalilian had started to set up a gym as a front at Crown House on Armley Road in Armley, Leeds, where the group cut, packaged, stored and distributed drugs and where police found a hydraulic press.
Jalilian, of Batter Lane, Rawdon, appeared in the dock with Bendo, Gohar Manzoor, of Low Road, Dewsbury Moor and Cheryl Scott, 45, of First Avenue, Royston, Barnsley.
Jalilian was jailed for 11-years, Bendo was jailed for eight-years, Manzoor was jailed for seven-years and our months and Scott was jailed for five years.
Scott, a lingerie designer who worked at Inspire Intimates in Harrogate, was in a relationship with Jalilian and was infatuated with him.
They lived together at Scott’s previous address in Redesdale Gardens in Adel, north Leeds.
In May and June 2017 Border Force officials intercepted three packages from Toronto in Canada addressed to Jalilian at Scott’s home in Redesdale Gardens.
Prosecutor Patrick Palmer said: “Each of the three parcels contained an identical children’s toy. Hidden inside each toy was a foil package. Each package contained about 50g crystal meth with a purity of about 99 per cent and with a street value of £18,000.”
The court heard that up until 2017 there was no market for crystal meth in Yorkshire so the group had to create one.
Mr Palmer said: “Jalilian, having seen this gap in the drug market, used his contacts and the dark web to order and import crystal meth and has used cryptocurrency to pay for the drug and preserve secrecy.”
The court heard Jalilian was a “competent chemist.”
Jalian pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charges. He also admitted offences including having CS gas with intent to resist arrest, possession of CS spray, administering a poisonous or noxious substance with intent, having a hunting knife, having a lock knife, dangerous driving and possession of criminal property.
Jalilian’s second in command Bendo made “significant amounts of cash” from drug dealing.
Manzoor was a trusted member of the organised crime group and exploited the supply lines set up by Jalilian.
Bendo’s POCA hearing was settled in January this year when it was heard how the total value of the conspiracy was £150,000 and Bendo had benefited by £95,910.
Bendo had £9,990 worth of assets available.
The sum was made up of cash seized by West Yorkshire Police and Bendo was ordered to pay the amount within 28 days or face more time in prison.