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11 jailed for smuggling Indian immigrants out of UK

world Updated: Nov 08, 2013 20:43 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar

In a major crackdown on organised people smuggling, two airline contractors are among 11 people jailed for their roles in helping Indian illegal immigrants out of the UK to Canada using false passports, the National Crime Agency said.|

Official sources in London said the pair, Imtiaz Ahmed, 45, and Ghulam Sarwar, 31, were among eleven people sentenced for aiding Indian nationals board flights to Canada from the Birmingham Airport using false identity documents on three separate occasions.

Ahmed was found guilty of three counts of assisting the commission of an offence following a four week trial at Birmingham Crown Court, while Sarwar admitted two counts of the same offence, with the third left on file. They were jailed for four and three years respectively.

One of the main organisers within the network, Povytar Singh Rai, 45, from Wolverhampton, was jailed for one year six months, while other members were handed sentences between 8 and 14 months, official sources said.

Richard Warner, National Crime Agency Birmingham Branch Commander, said: "All the offences committed by these individuals were serious, but the roles played by the corrupt airline contractors were key to the conspiracy".

He added: "In bringing them to justice we have dismantled an organised crime network responsible for serious attempts to circumvent airport and airline procedures and smuggle people across international borders".

The network was behind three separate attempts to smuggle Indian nationals out of the UK.

On each occasion, a person carrying a genuine UK travel document would check-in to the flight, passing their boarding card over to an imposter using a false passport in the same name. The UK passport holder would be paid between 200 and 300 pounds for their help.

The substitute travelers would then proceed through airport security and be assisted in getting on to the flight by Ahmed or Sarwar, who worked for a contractor responsible for carrying out pre-boarding documentation checks for airlines.

Investigators believe that the group's clients had paid in excess of 10,000 pounds for their services.

On the first two occasions, in August 2010, the individuals arrived in Canada and claimed asylum.

The third attempt in October was thwarted when two Indian nationals carrying false passports were prevented from boarding by Border Force officers. They were later deported back to India.