A woman from Hemel Hempstead who helped her smuggler husband launder hundreds of thousands of pounds of drug money has been jailed for 40 months.
Chinonyerem Otuonye, 44, was arrested at her home in Sandmere Close last September after analysis of the couple’s bank account found she had made cash deposits totalling £483,000 over a four-year period and paid out £25,000 in travel costs.
She was sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on Wednesday having admitted money laundering charges during a previous hearing.
Her husband Adegboyega Adeniji was sentenced to 30 years in prison at the same court in March, after he was found guilty of conspiring to smuggle a huge haul of drugs into the UK through Heathrow Airport.
In April 2011 Border Force officers stopped him with suitcases containing around 40 kilos of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine – valued at more than £4 million – as he came off a flight from Amsterdam.
Investigators later discovered 23 other suitcases which tested positive for traces of drugs at a flat Adeniji was renting in Kilburn, London.
Investigators found Otuonye had three UK properties - with a combined value of around £430,000 - registered in her name, and another two - worth £200,000 - registered jointly with her husband. She also owned property and land in Egypt.
Around £500,000 of assets belonging to the couple have been frozen, including the UK properties, bank accounts and a BMW car bought for Otuonye by her husband, which will be the subject of Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation proceedings.
Assistant director Peter Avery, from Border Force Criminal and Financial Investigations, said: “Adeniji was a major player believed to be involved in the importation of tens – if not hundreds – of millions of pounds worth of class A drugs.
“His wife played a key role in the criminal network he was part of, laundering a good proportion of the profits and benefitting financially herself.
“By using the Proceeds of Crime Act we are now working to strip the couple of a significant amount of money and property to ensure they do not benefit from their criminal enterprise.”