HEWA RAHIMPUR THE SMUGGLER GANG LEADER Smuggled up to 10,000 migrants across Channel jailed

A man granted asylum in east London has been convicted of helping to lead a criminal gang that smuggled up to 10,000 people across the Channel.

Hewa Rahimpur, 30, was sentenced to 11 years in prison and fined €80,000 at a court in Bruges, Belgium.  He was convicted in one of the biggest people-smuggling trials held in Europe – with 20 out of 21 defendants found guilty.

He was arrested in London more than a year ago after a police operation that involved officers in Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as the UK’s National Crime Agency.

Rahimpur arrived in Britain after hiding on a lorry. He initially tried to set up a business as a barber but, after that failed, he instead opened a small food retailer, selling confectionery.

It appeared popular. In fact, many of the customers were actually coming to Rahimpur to pay for trips across the Channel using the Hawala banking system, which leaves almost no trail.

Investigators believe that Rahimpur and his gang charged up to £6,000 for those on the boats, making total profits that sometimes went above £200,000 per crossing.  Critics have argued that his fine pales into insignificance at the profit for just one trip across the channel.