Two People Smugglers Jailed


Two people smugglers have been jailed after police found they had brought illegal immigrants to the UK.

They had used a light aircraft and vans fitted with hidden compartments.

Sangar Khalid Mohammed operated a car wash near Herefordshire but police officers discovered it was a front for a major people smuggling operation.

‘Behind the scenes’ Mohammed was charging people a small fortune — £12,000 per person — to bring them from the Continent.

He worked with a Birmingham man named Billy Hems, a light aircraft pilot, to drop illegal immigrants at remote UK airfields on ‘under-the-radar’ dawn flights and sneak them into the country in secret ‘hides’ on board vans.

Officers from the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) worked with the regional Home Office Immigration Criminal & Financial Investigation team to gather vital intelligence and evidence which led to their downfall.

Mohammed, aged 32, was arrested from his Symonds Yat home on 17th October 2019 at the same time seven Kurdish immigrants were being transported under his orders to Ghent in Belgium.

They thought it was the start of a journey that would see them cross The Channel — but instead police were lying in wait to intercept the van after ROCU and immigration enforcement worked with the Belgian authorities to set a trap.

Police enquiries revealed Mohammed was working with Hems as part of a widespread smuggling conspiracy.

In September 2018, a VW van (pictured) owned by the 24-year-old was stopped by French Police in Dunkirk with three illegal immigrants on-board.

The driver and passenger were jailed in France and a phone that was found in the van, was eventually linked to the ‘car wash’ operated by Mohammed.

It was also discovered Hems, from Rye Croft in Hollywood, regularly flew between the UK and Amiens, France, in 2018 on people smuggling trips to countryside air fields.

Flight data showed he landed at Church Farm airfield near Banbury on 8th September before taking off again for Birmingham Airport.

Phone enquiries showed Mohammed had been near the A40 landing strip at the time.

Hems was arrested at his home on 18th October 2019.

Three illegal immigrants were also recovered from a purpose-built hide in a van, part-owned by Mohammed, which was stopped by UK Border Force in France on 12th April 2019.

The driver — convicted and jailed in France — had been in phone contact with Mohammed during the journey.

Mohammed and Hems both admitted conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration. Mohammed also admitting to supplying drugs, and at Worcester Crown Court on Friday, 5th November, they were jailed for seven and a half years, and two and a half years respectively.

Detective Inspector Julie Woods from West Midlands ROCU said:

“This was a great piece of joint working between ourselves, immigration and the Belgian Police to bring down an established people smuggling gang… Mohammed and Hems were making big money on the plight and desperation of migrants while we also believe some were being put to work as cheap labour at Mohammed’s hand car wash.”

Minister for Justice and Tackling Illegal Immigration, Tom Pursglove, said:

“Both of these individuals showed a blatant disregard for the laws of the UK, for which they have all now rightly paid the price… We are determined to clamp down on despicable people smugglers that put profit before lives by organising dangerous and unnecessary journeys… This is why we are bringing legislation forward through the New Plan for Immigration to dismantle these people smuggling networks and save lives.”

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