Men jailed for role in smug­gling

Gang mem­bers sen­tenced for bring­ing In­dian im­mi­grants into the coun­try

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Goolis­tan Cooper goolis­tan.cooper@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

A WEST Dray­ton man has been jailed for his part in a gang which smug­gled In­di­ans into the UK.

Fahmi Hakim, a Bri­tish citizen from Iraq, liv­ing in East Road, was jailed for 11 years for his role in the illegal trade. He was part of a gang of seven who were jailed for a to­tal of 80 years for smug­gling In­dian im­mi­grants into the coun­try.

It in­cluded another Mid­dle­sex man – 29-yearold Burhan Ab­dul Sheikhany, from Feltham, who also orig­i­nated from Iraq – and who was jailed for 12 years.

The gang were jailed at South­wark Crown Court on Fri­day, Septem­ber 4.

The court was told how the op­er­a­tion had been put to­gether by Ma­jor Ba­jwa, 44, and Kuldeep Singh, 37, both In­dian na­tion­als re­sid­ing in the UK. Im­mi­grants paid around £10,000 to agents in In­dia, with the re­main­ing £10,000 to be paid upon ar­rival to the UK, po­lice said.

Once in the UK the im­mi­grants would be handed over to Ba­jwa and Singh, but the seven as­so­ci­ates held the vic­tims cap­tive at a flat in Ed­mon­ton and de­manded more money.

Po­lice were alerted on Novem­ber 5 last year when they re­ceived a call from a man who claimed that a num­ber of peo­ple were be­ing held hostage at an Ed­mon­ton ad­dress and would not be re­leased un­less a ran­som of £10,000 was paid for each vic­tim.

The Met’s Traf­fick­ing and Kid­nap Unit launched an op­er­a­tion to lo­cate and res­cue the vic­tims, quickly dis­cov­er­ing that mem­bers of the crim­i­nal gang had fallen out with each other.

It also emerged Ba­jwa had co­erced a rel­a­tive into call­ing po­lice in an at­tempt to have his co-con­spir­a­tors ar­rested and he was sub­se­quently ar­rested.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Traf­fick­ing and Kid­nap Unit re­sulted in the other mem­bers of the gang be­ing ar­rested. More than £80,000 in cash was seized dur­ing the course of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The vic­tims were re­ferred to the Home Of­fice.

Both Sheikhany and Hakim were sen­tenced for con­spir­acy to fa­cil­i­tate a breach of immigration law, pos­ses­sion of crim­i­nal prop­erty and five counts of false im­pris­on­ment.

In­ves­ti­gat­ing

of­fi­cer De­tec­tive Con­sta­ble Kieran Back­house, of the Traf­fick­ing and Kid­nap Unit, said af­ter­wards: “I am very pleased with to­day’s sen­tenc­ing which sends out a strong mes­sage that peo­ple smug­glers face the full might of the law and can ex­pect sub­stan­tial jail terms.”

More mem­bers of the gang, in­clud­ing Ba­jwa, are yet to be sen­tenced, and po­lice are hunt­ing one man who ab­sconded while the jury re­tired to find him guilty.

n JAILED: Burhan Ab­dul Sheikhany (left) and Fahmi Hakim

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