People smuggling gang jailed for 26 years

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"Today’s sentences show that we will stop at nothing to tackle the despicable smuggling gangs and ensure they are brought to justice" - Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

“We will shortly introduce new legislation to ensure that anyone attempting to enter the UK illegally is detained and swiftly returned home or to a safe third country.”

Members of an organised crime group which smuggled more than a dozen Middle Eastern nationals into the UK have been jailed for a combined 26 years.

Seven members of the British-Palestinian network were sentenced today (February 10) at Chelmsford Crown Court for conspiring to facilitate unlawful immigration through fraudulent documents.

Four women and three men, aged between 24 and 51, were caught following an investigation by the Home Office’s Criminal and Financial Investigations (CFI) unit.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said:

Today’s sentences show that we will stop at nothing to tackle the despicable smuggling gangs and ensure they are brought to justice.

Thanks to our specialist teams who work tirelessly to dismantle these international criminal networks, the smugglers are now behind bars.

No one should be putting their lives in the hands of smuggling gangs by attempting to enter the UK illegally, which is why we will shortly introduce new legislation to ensure that anyone doing so is detained and swiftly returned home or to a safe third country.

The gang smuggled at least 14 migrants into the UK from December 2017 to December 2018, including people from Palestine, Kuwait and Syria.

Investigators found the criminal network had access to around 240 European ID cards and passports, the majority of these were French documents, however they also included Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and British documents.

The gang organised 26 flights into the UK, of which 11 resulted in 14 undocumented migrants seeking asylum, three resulted in the facilitators being arrested and 12 flights were unsuccessful attempts.

Members of the network, which was active across Europe including in Belgium, France and Spain, also carried out two attempts through the border at Coquelles in France and Hoek van Holland in the Netherlands.

Their crimes started to unravel when Border Force officers stopped Firdos Ahmed at Harwich Port, who was carrying a French ID card in someone else’s name. A subsequent search of her phone found a collection of fraudulent documents and messages with other members of the gang, including her mother, Zarina Abdulla.

Those sentenced today were:

  • Firdos Imitiaz Ahmed, aged 29, of Feltham, London, was sentenced to four years
  • Moussa Aoun, aged 24, a Lebanese national, from Shepherd’s Bush, London, was sentenced to four years
  • Zarina Abdulla, aged 51, of Leicester, was sentenced to three years
  • Zahra Mohammad, aged 30, of Enfield, was sentenced to four years
  • Amna Tarmahomed, aged 28, of Leicester, was sentenced to two years and six months
  • Ismail Hussein, aged 48, a Palestinian national, of Tottenham, London, was sentenced to six years
  • Micaiah Marley, aged 29, of Watford, was sentenced to two years and six months

Micaiah Marley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to facilitate the entry into the UK of asylum seekers and the remaining six defendants were found guilty of the same offence at trial.

Stuart Stokes, Assistant Director of the Criminal and Financial Investigation unit, said:

CFI officers are working night and day to dismantle organised crime groups such as this. We will leave no stone unturned when it comes to investigating suspected people smugglers and bringing them before the courts.

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