Drug kingpin hid fake money in his shower walls, court told
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Drug kingpin hid fake money in his shower walls, court told

Suspect was recaptured after fleeing on foot

Jordan Azzopardi has pleaded not guilty.

Jordan Azzopardi has pleaded not guilty.

Police who raided the home of a suspected drug kingpin found fake €100 notes hidden inside the walls of his shower, an inspector told the court on Friday. 

The detail emerged as the compilation of evidence against Jordan Azzopardi continued. 

Friday's hearing also saw four witnesses recount how they had fallen prey to the fake currency scam allegedly put into by Mr Azzopardi.

The witnesses, the owner of a Sliema confectionery stores, a shopowner from San Ġwann, a student working part-time in a Sliema store and a front officer at a Sliema restaurant all recounted how an “elderly, bald man,” had presented a €100 note to purchase items.

The first witness explained that the banknote, presented to one of his staff, had been rejected by the checking machine when the customer had handed it over to pay the bill for a soft drink and minor items.

The man had said he had no other cash and had walked away empty-handed, his presence captured on the shop’s CCTV system.

The second shopkeeper had not been so lucky, accepting a similar banknote which later turned out to be fake, only realising after handing out change for a bill of some €10 and confirming his suspicion when the police later called at his shop.

The part-timer explained that when the customer had handed him the €100 note, he handed it over to a more experienced colleague who scanned it three times over and said it was “real”.

Read: Acid tanks, white powder and fake €100 notes: court hears of drug trafficking operation

Having received the go-ahead, the man effected the transaction, only to realise they had been duped when the police called the following day.

The staff at the Sliema restaurant recounted how an elderly man entered the shop one evening, ordering three burgers and three colas, sounding surprised when told that the bill amounted to €28.80.

When handed the food and the bill, the man had presented a crumpled €100 note.

The member of staff recalled how he had flatted out the money, held it up against the light and handed over the change, since the note had appeared genuine.

The shop had a special marker to detect false currency, the witness explained, adding that in fact when touched with the marker, this had left no mark on the banknote. The police arrival confirmed it was counterfeit.

An expert in counterfeit currency from the Central Bank, also testifying in court, confirmed the three banknotes handed to him for checking were fake and lacked the normal security features.

Inspector Mark Anthony Mercieca informed the court that 67 €100 banknotes had been discovered hidden inside the walls of his home shower.

Azzopardi tried to flee police

Several members from the drugs squad recounted how on March 14, they had been tasked with exercising an arrest warrant against Jordan Azzopardi.

Various officers testified as to how they had spotted the suspect in a black Skoda Fabia at Qui-Si-Sana, Sliema, alongside a female passenger.

They followed the car to Dragut Point where the surveillance team noted another male passenger on the back seat, later identified as Mario Abdilla, “the elderly-looking bald man.”

The trio were followed to San Ġwann, along various stops at stores, before the Skoda finally drove to Għargħur where it stopped at the McDonald’s car park.

The woman passenger got out, went to another car and drove away to Madliena where she was later arrested as she emerged from a maisonette at Busietta Gardens.

In her handbag was a crusher with traces of cannabis, while the key to the maisonette was found in her car.

The woman was strip-searched by two female officers who both testified that the search had proved negative. A search of the apartment yielded a glass jar filled with cannabis buds on the breakfast bench, loose cash and other drug paraphernalia.

An officer walked up to Mr Azzopardi just as he had exited the Skoda to buy something from the coffee shop, informed him he was under arrest.

However, soon after being handcuffed, while other officers were searching the vehicle, the suspect made one final bid to escape, running away on foot with the police at his heels.

He finally collided with a street pole, suffering slight injuries, before being recaptured and led to the health centre for treatment.

The other male member of the trio had also been arrested as he sat at the passenger seat of the Skoda in the Għargħur car park.

The compilation continues on April 10.

Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi and Alfred Abela were defence counsel. Inspectors Mark Mercieca and Justine Grech prosecuted.

At the end of heading, defence counsel requested the court, presided over by magistrate Doreen Clarke, not to decide upon the bail applications filed on behalf of Mr Azzopardi and his female co-accused until other civilian witnesses testified at the next sitting. The request was duly upheld.

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