Six men have been sentenced to a total of 20 years for their part in supplying and exporting stolen vehicles to the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC).
The City of London Police, which led the investigation, identified in excess of 120 stolen vehicles linked to the organised crime group. The theft of the high value vehicles such as Audis, Mercedes, BMWs, and Range Rovers is thought to have cost the industry an estimated £5million.
The men obtained cars in Britain worth between £40,000 and £80,000 through a sophisticated scam involving identity fraud, fraudulent insurance claims, and the sale of vehicles belonging to finance companies.
Two of the six, Dervish Chaglar and Mert Işık, then organised for the stolen vehicles to be sold in the TRNC using their company ‘Test Cars’ as a cover.
The crime group removed tracking devices, re-registered vehicles and used fake licence plates to avoid detection, before passing the cars on to couriers, who drove the vehicles through Europe to North Cyprus.
Over a 14-month period, the City of London Police seized a number of cars that were destined to be sold by the gang. These included two Audi Q7s worth £80,000 each, two Range Rover Velars worth £60,000 each, a Range Rover Vogue worth £40,000, two BMW 5 series worth £40,000 each and a Mercedes AMG worth £40,000.
In total, the police operation disrupted sales, and seized assets from the group, in the region of £800,000.
Detective Constable Barry Butler, from the City of London Police, said:
“Serious and organised crime is a huge risk to national and, in this case, international security. By disrupting not only the gangs involved, but seizing their criminal assets and frustrating their funding, we have successfully removed an international illicit criminal market that, in all likelihood, was utilised by dangerous criminal groups in the UK.
“This operation, and the subsequent court results, would not have been possible without the hard work of the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) gathering key evidence and the National Crime Agency, who assisted us greatly in all aspects of the investigation.”
The six convicted men and their offences are:
- Dervish Chaglar, 48, of Millharbour, Tower Hamlets, was sentenced to six years for conspiracy to handle stolen goods, at Southwark Crown Court on 21 November 2019, after a trial.
- Mert Isik, 29, of Newington Green Road, Islington, was sentenced to four years for conspiracy to handle stolen goods, at Southwark Crown Court on 21 November 2019, after a trial.
- Martin Woodhouse, 63, of Grasmere Gardens, Harrow, was sentenced to a total of six years for the theft of an Audi Q7 S Line and two Range Rover Velars, at Southwark Crown Court on 21 November 2019, after a trial.
- Mansha Khan, 50, of Mauldeth Road West, Manchester, pleaded guilty to the offence of handling stolen goods and was sentenced to one year, suspended for two years, with 150 hours unpaid work, at Southwark Crown Court on Monday 29 June 2020.
- Bradley Young, 40, of Loring Road, Barnet, was sentenced to 18 months, suspended for two years, with 150 hours unpaid work, for the theft of a Range Rover and fraud by false representation, at Southwark Crown Court on Monday 29 June 2020.
- Ali Duman, 28, of Milton Garden Estate, Stoke Newington, was sentenced to 18 months, suspended for two years, with 150 hours unpaid work, for the theft of a Range Rover and fraud by false representation, at Southwark Crown Court on Monday 29 June 2020.
A seventh member of the crime group, Stephen Chromik, 60, of Bobmore Lane, Buckinghamshire, pleaded guilty to the theft of a Range Rover and is due to be sentenced in August 2020.
All images © City of London police, June 2020.
Main image, top (L-R): Martin Woodhouse, Dervish Chaglar and Mert Işık, jailed for between 4 & 6 years for their roles in the car-smuggling operation, June 2020.