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Immigration racketeer gets 23 years in jail

Sarwan Singh has been sentenced on charge of smuggling in 6000 illegal migrants.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2004 16:45 IST

Harrow crown court in North-West London has sentenced a five-strong gang led by Indian-origin Sarwan Singh, for a total of 23 years on the charge of smuggling 6000 illegal immigrants into the UK.

The court was told that the racket appeared to centre on the Indian Consulate in Birmingham. At least one official there was thought to have been allegedly paid to process bogus documents and stolen genuine ones.

According to a media report, police surveillance footage showed the alleged suspect meeting the gang's mastermind Deo, in a disused pub before travelling home. It is said three officials have been moved back to India, since the gang was arrested.

The other key part of the operation was a trade in " recycled" passports, either stolen or bought from a willing seller. The trade routes ran from the Indian subcontinent through the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

Judge Dawn Freedman said their human trafficking, estimated to have earned £50 million, had posed great risks for national security. Her remark was prompted by the revelation that one of the persons smuggled by the gang was a suspected Sikh terrorist.

The gang, reportedly, operated for over 12 years and provided the best package for around £8000 in total. Half would be paid up front and the rest handed over once the "client" arrived in the UK. The gang claimed to be the best in its business and provided chaperone services, clothes and tutored the clients in English language.

The total earning is estimated to be around £50 million. Deo has reportedly stashed most of his earning in Punjab. The police here are now trying to trace his deposits.

First Published: Jan 16, 2004 16:45 IST