Ali Ghasemi of Harrow Weald Park, Harrow was was sentenced to three years and four months in prison at Southwark Crown Court for his part in the theft ring dating back to 2008.
He was assisted by four members of the Sayed family, who he is not related to – siblings Behroz Sayed, 35, Ali Farad Sayed, 23, Najia Sayed, 30 and Krezhal Sayed.
Ghasemi was close friends with their mother and a father figure to them. He was also helped by Sayed Mahjub, 39, who was married to Najia Sayed.
Between 2008 and 2010, Ghasemi – using the name “Javad Jan” – Mahjub, using the name “Ash”, and Behroz Sayed, booked a freight company to supply shipping containers to remote locations across South East England.
Unknown to the freight company, at least 48 stolen JCBs, rollers, telehandlers, forklifts and tractors – many of them worth around £50,000 each – were loaded into the containers.
They were shipped out to a company in Sharjah, UAE, called Al Mustaqeem.
Enquiries with the UAE authorities revealed Ghasemi was an investor in this company, Behroz Sayed was the managing director and Sayed Aimal Mahjub was an employee.
It is thought that the group sold the machinery on – often at great profit – to clients in the UAE, where there was a huge demand for plant machinery at the time.
Officers from the MPS Plant and Agricultural National Intelligence Unit (PANIU) began investigating the family in July 2009 after Avon and Somerset Police recovered two telehandlers in a shipping container from a remote farm in Wedmore, Somerset.
Enquiries with the freight company revealed a large amount of shipping requests from the family.
Subsequent warrants executed with Hertfordshire and Thames Valley Police Services resulted in numerous other machines being recovered across South England.
Between August and September 2009, officers arrested all the members of the group and search warrants were executed at their home addresses.
A myriad of incriminating documents were found, including records of the stolen vehicles’ identification numbers, accounts books with various family members’ names shown next to payments made and received, and photographs of the stolen equipment.
Through studying the documents, police established that Najia Sayed’s role was to launder money to other family members via her bank accounts, while Krezhal Sayed created false sales invoices for the machinery in an attempt to legitamise the equipment.
Ali Farad Sayed helped in the arrangements of arranging shipping and was arrested in South Ockendon, Essex, where he was found near a freight container ordered by his brother, Behroz Sayed, which contained two stolen BMWs.
All were charged with conspiracy to conceal, disguise, transfer or remove criminal property.
On 1 July 2013, Behroz Sayed of Ruth Close, Stanmore and Sayed Mahjub of Coxe Place, Wealdstone, Harrow pleaded guilty and they were sentenced to five years imprisonment and four years imprisonment respectively on 6 September 2013.
Najia Sayed of Lower High Street, Watford, Herts pleaded guilty on 3 July 2013 and was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment, which was reduced on appeal to one year, at the Royal Courts of Justice on 18 March 2014.
Ali Farad Sayed and Krezhal Sayed, both of Ruth Close, Stanmore denied the charge but were found guilty on 31 July 2013 following a trial at Southwark Crown Court.
They were each sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment – Ali Farad Sayed on 6 September 2013 and Krezhal Sayed on 20 December 2013.
Investigating officer, DC James Elliott of the PANIU said: “The demand for high value plant machinery in the UAE was sky-high and Ghasemi and the Sayed family sought to make money from that with criminal methods.
“We believe that the vehicles had been stolen to order for clients in the UAE. Ghasemi and Sayed facilitated their export so that they could be sold on.
“A financial investigation to establish how much they made from their criminal enterprise is ongoing. Documentation we seized indicates that hundreds of thousands of pounds has passed through the family’s accounts over the course of the conspiracy.”