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Gang members who smuggled 41 migrants jailed

The organised crime group is estimated to have made more than £200,000 by facilitating migrants into the UK.

Two members of an organised crime group who smuggled more than 40 migrants into the UK have been jailed.

Mohamed Awad, aged 25, of London, was sentenced yesterday (16 May 2023) to two years and eight months at Laganside Crown Court, Belfast, for his part in facilitating the unlawful immigration of 41 Syrian nationals.

His co-accused, Ahmad Omar, aged 40, from Belfast, was jailed for two years in March for his role as a paid driver in the criminal organisation.

The pair were caught following an investigation by the Home Office’s Criminal and Financial Investigations (CFI) unit which found the international smuggling gang were charging migrants around £5,000 per journey.

It is estimated that the gang made more than £200,000 for facilitating the Syrian nationals into the UK over a 16-day period in November 2021.

The gang provided false identity documents and arranged flights from Belfast to Britain to facilitate the illegal entry of the migrants through abuse of the Common Travel Area between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Awad was described as a ‘highly trusted operator’ within the organised crime group and was the person responsible for arranging the flights.

Officers from the Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement, along with Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), carried out search warrants at addresses in Belfast and London on 10 March 2022. They arrested the two defendants, seizing £8,000 in cash and a Nissan Juke as part of the investigation.

The defendants both plead guilty to assisting unlawful immigration.

The British and Irish governments continue to work closely through the Cross Border Joint Agency Taskforce, to disrupt organised crime groups and tackle organised immigration crime, modern slavery and human trafficking.

Ben Thomas, Deputy Director from the Criminal and Financial Investigation unit, said:

We are committed to dismantling people-smuggling networks, and will stop at nothing to bring them to justice.

We would like to thank our policing partners in Northern Ireland who assisted us in this investigation. We will continue to work closely with them to save lives and ensure that people smugglers face the consequences of their despicable crimes.

Channel website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/home-office

Original article link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/gang-members-who-smuggled-41-migrants-jailed

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