Two men involved in a £9million drug smuggling ring were intending to open a business in premises owned by Southern Rail at Thornton Heath station.
Southern Rail had to repossess the premises after Joysen Jhurry and his accomplice Preetam Mungrah were arrested after smuggling more than £9 million worth of cocaine through Heathrow Airport.
Following an eight week trial at Kingston Upon Thames Crown Court, Preetam Mungrah, 43, of Woodville Road, Thornton Heath, was found guilty on Thursday (October 5) of conspiring to import huge quantities of the Class A drug with Joysen Jhurry – a corrupt baggage handler from Banstead.
Despite work starting on the building following planning permission in October 2015 the shop, at 38 Brigsotck Road, which used to be The Studio cafe never opened and still remains empty.
Joysen Jhurry, who pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing, leased the premises and put in the planning application.
Mr Jhurry was an active director of three companies one of which Shani Steel Ltd, also based in Croydon. Mr Mungrah is listed as a co-director.
Govia Thamesline which runs Southern Rail issued a repossession notice for the shop which is now being readvertised to rent for £20,000 per annum
When approached by The Chronicle in January when we first broke the story, a spokesman said: “Our managing agents, Amey TPT undertake rigorous vetting, including proof of identity, financial and credit reference checks, of all tenants applying to rent commercial properties from us. This was done with regards the lease for this property.”
The prosecution followed an 18-month National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation, culminating in the arrests of several men in December 2016.
NCA surveillance officers would watch as Jhurry, of Grange Gardens in Banstead, arranged to move suitcases containing the drugs off a flight from Brazil.
Jhurry would then have them placed on baggage carousels for domestic flights at Heathrow.
Around the time of each flight 40-year-old Jhurry was in phone contact with his right-hand man Mungrah.
In total, cocaine weighing more than 100 kilos and cannabis weighing around 50 kilos were seized from the gang.
Wilfred Owusu, 30, of Morris Blitz Court in Stoke Newington, was also convicted on the same day as Mungrah.
Three other men, Damion Goodhall, 30, of Singleton Close in Tooting, Mark Agoro, 51, of Mayflower Road, in Chafford Hundred and Aziz Abdul, 37, of no fixed address, also pleaded guilty to being part of the conspiracy.
A sentencing date has not yet been set,
Brendan Foreman, who is the NCA’s regional head of investigations said: “This was a sophisticated plot and at the centre of it was a man who used his privileged access to Heathrow and insider knowledge of the airport’s systems for criminal purposes.
“This kind of corruption threatens the security of the UK border and the public at large which is why the NCA and its partners are tackling it as a priority.
“Working with Border Force, Airport authorities and the airline community we were able to stop this organised crime group in its tracks and pull together evidence which demonstrated their guilt to the jury.”
PICTURES: provided by the National Crime Agency show
2. Preetam Mungrah convicted
3. Joysen Jhurry pleaded guilty