People-smuggling ringleader jailed for bringing thousands into UK in boats

A man has been sentenced in Belgium to 11 years in jail for heading one of the most significant human trafficking gangs involved in smuggling people across the English Channel.

Police believe Hewa Rahimpur, 30, was behind a ring that brought 10,000 people to the UK in small boats.

Rahimpur was 23 when he arrived in Britain in 2016 and claimed asylum, saying that as an Iranian Kurd he would face persecution back home.

He was allowed to stay in 2020.

Rahimpur, who was given leave to remain in the UK, set up a barber’s shop in London with a friend but then used Britain as a base for a far-reaching criminal operation.

He was in charge of a gang that sourced boats, engines and life-jackets for migrant crossings. They procured the material from Turkey and China and transported it to Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The boats were then moved to the coast of northern France and handed to groups of migrants waiting in Calais and Dunkirk.

The migrants, including women and children, were given basic information about how to use the boats to get to Britain, and then set off across the Channel.

Some of the vessels were very unsafe, held together using gaffer tape and planks of wood.

Migration expert Stef Janssens told the BBC that 30 to 40 people were put in every boat: “The smugglers show no respect for human life. It’s actually amazing that there are not more deaths.”



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