Tara Hanlon: Leeds woman who tried to smuggle £2million in cash out of UK in suitcases jailed

A money launderer from Leeds who was caught trying to smuggle almost £2 million out of the UK in her suitcases has been jailed for almost three years.

Monday, 26th July 2021, 5:45 pm
Updated Monday, 26th July 2021, 10:02 pm

Tara Hanlon, 30, from Peham Court, Middleton, was stopped boarding a flight from Heathrow to Dubai in October 2020.

The National Crime Agency launched an investigation after Tara was stopped.

She initially denied having any cash on her, but Border Force officers found the money in vacuum-packed bundles, stuffed inside her five checked in suitcases.

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Tara Hanlon, 30, from Peham Court, Middleton, was stopped boarding a flight from Heathrow to Dubai in October 2020. NCA

Hanlon was arrested for money laundering.

The bundles were covered in coffee, in an apparent attempt to disguise them from being picked up by sniffer dogs.

NCA investigators were able to trace her travel patterns over the previous months and found that she had made three other trips in July and August 2020.

Enquiries with the Dubai authorities showed that on each occasion she had declared she was carrying more than a million pounds in cash upon arrival, totalling £3.5 million.

Tara Hanlon, 30, from Peham Court, Middleton, was stopped boarding a flight from Heathrow to Dubai in October 2020. NCA

In interviews with NCA officers she admitted being driven to a hotel in London to pick up the cases, and was having her flight and hotel bills paid for.

Text messages found on her phones by NCA investigators indicated she was being paid around £3,000 for each trip.

In messages to a contact she bragged “3 big ones…with this wage and the next my debts go bye”.

Other messages also indicated she was looking to recruit other couriers, referring to the job as a “…perfect life a few days in the sun and a few at home.”

Tara Hanlon, 30, from Peham Court, Middleton, was stopped boarding a flight from Heathrow to Dubai in October 2020. NCA

Hanlon later admitted money laundering charges.

She admitted one count of conspiring to remove criminal property from England & Wales; three counts of removing criminal property from England & Wales; and one count of attempting to remove criminal property from England & Wales.

Today (Monday July 26) a judge at Isleworth Crown Court sentenced her to 34 months in prison.

NCA senior investigating officer Ian Truby said: “Hanlon smuggled more than £3.5 million criminal cash out of the UK and was caught red handed with another £2 million.

"This money undoubtedly came from organised crime.

“Tara Hanlon thought that she was going to be living a jet-set lifestyle, instead she is now serving a prison sentence.

"I hope her story is a cautionary one for others who would consider doing the same.

“Stopping the flow of illicit cash is a priority for the NCA and our partners.”

Following the arrest of Hanlon a number of other cash couriers were identified suspected of being linked to the same money laundering network.

In November 2020 Czech national Zdenek Kamaryt, aged 38, from Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Republic, was intercepted as he attempted to board a flight from Heathrow to Dubai.

£1.3 million cash was found in his bags, with investigators identifying he had made two previous trips in July and August.

Kamaryt pleaded guilty to money laundering offences and was given a two-year jail sentence on March 9, 2021.

Eight other people were arrested in a series of raids in May 2021 at locations in London, Surrey, West Yorkshire, and Greater Manchester.

They were released under investigation while enquiries continue.