A WOMAN from Pudsey was one of eight people arrested across the country this morning in a series of synchronised raids across the country by the National Crime Agency.

The 39-year-old, of Carr Road, was arrested earlier today as part of an investigation into a suspected network of cash couriers who have laundered more than £50 million in criminal cash.

Five women and three men were nicked in the stings in Leeds, Salford and London, who are alleged to be cash couriers responsible for hiding huge sums of cash in luggage on commercial flights between the UK and Dubai.

On each occasion, the alleged couriers flew from either London Heathrow or Manchester with large amounts of checked in baggage but would return from Dubai days later with significantly less suitcases.

The other Leeds-based suspects are a 54-year-old woman from Stanks Close, Whinmoor, and a man aged 18 of Grange Avenue, Garforth.

In Salford, a man aged 36 and woman aged 25, both of St Lawrence Quay, were arrested, and in London a 27-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman both from Fulham, and a woman aged 48 from Staines were also arrested.

The National Crime Agency's investigation began after around £1.9 million was seized from an outbound passenger at Heathrow in October 2020.

Tara Hanlon, 30, from Leeds, has been charged with money laundering in relation to the incident and is awaiting trial.

A month later, Czech national Zdenek Kamaryt, 38, was stopped by police as he attempted to board a flight from Heathrow to Dubai. £1.3 million in cash was found in his bags, and he was identified as having made two previous trips in July and August.

Kamaryt pleaded guilty to money laundering offences and was jailed for two years in March.

NCA senior investigating officer Ian Truby said: “Cash is the lifeblood of organised crime.

"Organised crime groups need to launder it so they invest it in further criminality.

"Our investigation has identified millions of pounds of what we suspect are criminal profits being flown out of the UK to be laundered.

“This investigation has prevented that from happening on a number of occasions, but we have been able to identify previous trips by individuals we believe were carrying money.

“What we have seen is huge shipments of cash, with couriers carrying multiple suitcases, with up to half a million pounds in each case. Those couriers would likely have been paid several thousand pounds themselves.

“Our investigation continues, and those arrested today remain in custody for questioning.”