A gang from west London comprising of five persons of Punjabi origin has been jailed for a total of 26.5 years after being found guilty of helping illegal immigrants get into the UK via Heathrow Airport.
In an official statement released here, UK Border Agency’s Heathrow criminal and financial investigation unit assistant director Peter Avery said that Nerman Singh (33), Saran Singh Kapoor (37), Subir Singh Sarna (43) and Davinder Singh Chawla (37) - were all found guilty of conspiring to facilitate unlawful entry to the UK on January 14 at Isleworth Crown Court. Another man, Afghan national Paramjeet Singh Baweja (39) had admitted the charges at a previous hearing, he added.
They were arrested during a series of early morning raids carried out by UK Border Agency and Metropolitan Police officers in Hounslow, Southall, Isleworth and Feltham during September 2009.
Avery said that the prosecution followed a nine months investigation into a suspected plot to help eight people enter the UK via Heathrow Airport. In each case the illegal immigrants arrived in the UK without passports and claimed asylum as Afghans.
On their modus operandi, he said the gang's plot involved flying their 'clients' from India to Bangkok. “Once there, they would be provided with counterfeit passports, visas and boarding cards for onward flights to Heathrow. The boarding cards were obtained by gang members who had checked in using genuine documents in their own names or those of family members,” he said.
“We have disrupted a significant and sophisticated international criminal network which aimed to assist people to enter the UK illegally. We are determined to create a hostile environment for organised criminals who prey on vulnerable immigrants and take action against those who break the law. I hope the jail terms handed out to them will send out a message that we are determined to create a hostile environment for organised criminals who try and undermine this country's immigration laws,” Avery said.
A number of other attempts to enter the UK by the same method were intercepted by UK Border Agency officers based in Bangkok, who stopped the individuals boarding flights to London.