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UK: Indian-origin couple convicted for smuggling 514 kg of cocaine, UK had earlier refused to extradite them for murder of 12-year-old orphan. Read details

Arti Dhir and her husband Kavaljitsinh Raijada set up a front company named 'Viefly Freight Services' to smuggle drugs to Sydney from London.

On Monday (29th January), a United Kingdom court found an Indian-origin married couple guilty of smuggling 514 kg of cocaine worth ₹600 crore (£57 million) to Australia via commercial flights.

As per reports, the accused were identified as 59-year-old Arti Dhir and her 35-year-old husband Kavaljitsinh Raijada. The duo set up a front company named ‘Viefly Freight Services’ to smuggle drugs to Sydney from London.

They had packed the drugs under a shipment of metal toolboxes. In May 2021, the Australian Border Force intercepted the drug consignment and notified the UK authorities.

Drugs sent via courier to Australia, Image via NCA

The National Crime Agency (NCA) traced the drugs to Arti Dhir and Kavaljitsinh Raijada. The latter’s fingerprints were discovered on the plastic wrapping of the consignment. The investigation agency also found receipts for the toolboxes at the home of the Indian-origin couple.

NCA also recovered gold-plated silver bars and millions of pounds of cash from their residence. It later emerged that the couple previously worked at a flight services company at Heathrow Airport and used the knowledge of airport freight procedures for drug smuggling.

Arti Dhir and Kavaljitsinh Raijada were convicted of 18 counts of money laundering and 12 counts of exportation by a jury at the Southwark Crown Court. Proceedings have been initiated to seize their illegally gained assets.

Cash recovered from the Indian-origin couple, images via NCA

Interestingly, the Indian government had sought the extradition of the duo in 2019 in connection to the murder of a 12-year-old orphan named Gopal Sejani and his brother-in-law Harsukhbhai Chaganbhal Kardani in Junagadh city of Gujarat on 8th February 2017.

The double murder was plotted by Arti Dhir to obtain proceeds from a ₹1.3 crore insurance policy that she took out in the name of the victim Gopal. She and her husband Raijada paid ₹5 lakh to one Nitish Mund to hire killers for the murder.

The extradition request by the Indian government was turned down by Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 2nd July 2019 on the basis that the duo had no prospect of early release if they were imprisoned in Gujarat.

This was despite assurances from the Indian government that the Indian-origin couple would be eligible to apply for early release.

Arti Dhir is a British Indian, who was born in Nairobi. Her family hails from Gurdaspur in Punjab. On the other hand, Kavaljitsinh Raijada is an Indian national who hails from Keshod in Gujarat.

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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