August 19 2014
– Two brothers who provided a ‘bespoke travel service’ for Pakistani nationals who had overstayed their student visa have been jailed for people smuggling.
Abdul Rashid, 54, and Abdul Majid, 51, arranged for people to leave the UK under false identities on coach trips to Europe, according to Kent Police.
Some of those who travelled were Pakistani students in the UK on expired visas – or visas due to expire, and who faced deportation back to their home country, a force spokesman said.
Rashid and Majid, from Peterborough, would charge the students thousands of pounds each to book them on to commercial coach trips, following in their own vehicles with their customers’ luggage, Canterbury Crown Court was told.
The luggage would be handed back to the customer on the other side of the Channel and rather than board their return coach trip, the students would travel on into Europe, police said.
The people who took up on the scam would then go into mainland Europe – avoiding the prospect of deportation from Britain.
Detective Constable Nicky Holland-Day said: ‘The defendants provided a ‘bespoke travel service’ for Pakistani nationals who had overstayed their student visa.
‘It is an offence to facilitate the entry of a non-EU national into the territory of another EU state unless a visa has been granted permitting entry into that country.
‘Furthermore, Rashid and Majid were getting rich at their victims’ expense.
‘They were holding down day jobs while depositing tens of thousands of pounds in cash into their bank accounts over several years.
‘At the same time, Majid was telling HMRC (revenue and customs) he was a low-paid taxi driver and was claiming working tax credits from the UK taxpayer.’
The scam unravelled following routine stop-checks on suspect vehicles leaving the Port of Dover.
Between October 2011 and February 2012, Kent Police built up a portfolio of evidence suggesting an illegal people smuggling operation was under way.
Officers from the Kent Police Special Branch, in co-ordination with Cambridgeshire Constabulary, searched addresses in Peterborough in May 2012 and Rashid and Majid were arrested.
The men each pleaded guilty to breaching UK immigration law and a further charge under the Proceeds of Crime Act in June this year.
Rashid was jailed for three years and Majid for one year at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday.
DC Holland-Day added: ‘Rashid and Majid were able to grow wealthy by flagrantly breaching UK immigration laws. Their motivation was obviously financial reward.’
– Julian Robinson