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The kingpin behind a multi million pound Europe-wide people smuggling operation that saw at least 10,000 immigrants come to the UK illegally in boats has been jailed for 11 years after a crackdown by the National Crime Agency. 

Iranian Hewa Rahimpur, 30, directed the network from his home in Ilford, east London, sourcing the boats in Turkey and having them delivered to locations in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

His arrest led to a European-wide police operation that saw the confiscation of 135 boats, 1,200 life jackets and thousands of Euros in cash as well as 40 arrests.

Two people arrested in Belgium have identified Rahimpur as the person who purchased boats and organised their transport to the French coast.

The National Crime Agency said it had arrested six people in the UK and had provided intelligence to European partners that led to arrests on the continent.

Rahimpur was one of 20 people sentenced in Bruges after the court heard they charged desperate immigrants between £3,000 and £6,000 each for the Channel crossing.

Hewa Rahimpur, 30, a ringleader in a people smuggling gang responsible for moving 10,000 migrants in small boat crossings to the UK

Lifejackets recovered in the north-western city of Osnabruck, Germany

The NCA have released this photo showing a search being carried out in Osnabruck, Germany, as part of the operation

Hewa Rahimpur being detained in an NCA operation in Wanstead Park, east London

After sourcing the boats he would then get others in the criminal network to take them to northern France from where illegal migrants would set out for Britain.

He was arrested by the National Crime Agency as he strolled in Wanstead Park in May 2022 after an investigation by the NCA and Belgian authorities.

They became involved when boats were seized and motors found in the back of two cars near the Belgian-French border in October 2021.

Phone analysis showed the drivers had been in contact with a UK-based phone number, with messages about boat movements and locations for delivery.

The NCA was able to attribute the number to Rahimpur, tracking him down to east London where he was detained pending extradition.

His arrest triggered a Europe-wide operation to bring down other members of the network, which led to arrests in the UK, Germany, France and Netherlands in July 2022.

In Germany 60 inflatable boats and hundreds of life jackets which would have been used by the gang were seized.

It was at a farmhouse in the pretty market town of Osnabruck that the gang would begin its journey.

Photographs previously passed to the Mail via a source in Germany showed piles of unopened boxes with logos of Tohatsu, a company that makes boats and motors, alongside boxes of boats wrapped in plastic.

Footage taken on a mobile phone shows a rubber boat, of the colour that landed daily on the Kent coast carrying migrants last year, laid on the floor. A young member of the gang is inspecting it for damage. 

The property was hidden behind tall trees, down a nondescript track, only 100 yards from a main road that leads to Germany’s motorways that lead to the Dutch and Belgium borders. From there the gang would take the 340 mile journey to Calais. 

The gang took inflatable rubber boats and cheap onboard engines to the French beaches, where thousands of migrants have set off towards Britain.

In July 2022 a UK court ordered that Rahimpur should be extradited to Belgium to face trial in Bruges.

There, prosecutors accused him of being engaged in ‘systematic human smuggling’ using small boats, charging migrants between £3,000 and £6,000 to make the crossing.

A judge in Bruges found him guilty and sentenced him to 11 years in prison.

Another 19 people were convicted alongside him and handed jail terms of between 30 months and eight years.

The gangs tentacles are said to have streched from Iraq, Iran and Turkey into Europe and Britain.

‘Some of the Osnabruck gang members are based in Britain and have homes there,’ an anti-trafficking official in Germany previously told the Mail. ‘They spend time in Europe and back in their birth countries, but they view the migrants’ sea-route to the UK as a honeypot.’

Picture shows a search being carried out in Osnabruck, Germany

Iranian-born Hewa Rahimpur was arrested during a planned operation in east London

Belgian authorities suspected Rahimpur had links to a major organised crime group involved in people trafficking 

A court artist sketch dated May 5, 2022, showing Hewa Rahimpur appearing in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, central London

She added: ‘We think it was at a kitchen table on a laptop or mobile phone in the homes of the UK’s Kurdish communities that the early planning for the Osnabruck enterprise took place. It was brilliantly operated, you have to give them that. But we have been watching and waiting for our day to come.’ 

Jean-Philippe Lecouffe, Deputy Director of Europol, said migrants pay between £2,000 and £9,000 to make the crossing and that the criminal group’s activity generated as much as £51.4 million in 2021 alone.

‘The gang was running a brilliant military-style operation. It was copied from the ‘just in time’ methods of delivering parts to car factories at the exact moment they are needed,’ a British anti-trafficking expert previously told the Mail.

‘The idea was to get boats, engines and migrants on a French beach at precisely the same time, and under darkness, so that a launch could happen quickly. There was no hanging around. The speed befuddled the French police.’

One Iranian-Kurdish migrant, who watched one of the operations unfold last summer, said: ‘I was on a Calais beach one night. It was just before 2am when a truck arrived. It was driven by a dark-haired woman with a Dutch or German accent. She called out in a guttural voice: ‘We are here.’

Read more: People trafficking ‘kingpin’ suspect from Iran, 29, who ‘brought 10,000 people to UK’ may agree to be extradited to Belgium to face trial


‘The migrants had just arrived at the beach from the camps in Calais, following a map ‘pin’ on their mobile phones sent to them by the traffickers. This will have come with an instruction from the gang on what time to get there.

‘The rubber boat and an outboard appeared in the truck at the same moment. They made the migrants unload and inflate the boat. Then they were off, running towards the sea, carrying the black-and-green boat on their heads. 

‘A couple of the male migrants carried the outboard after them. It was all over in minutes. The lorry was already heading back to Germany when the migrants pushed the boat out to sea and towards England.’

At the time of his arrest, in May last year, Jacque Beer, National Crime Agency (NCA) Deputy Director of Investigations said Rahimputer ‘stands accused of being a major player in what we would say is one of the most significant criminal networks involved in supplying boats to people smugglers.’

Speaking today NCA Deputy Director of Investigations Craig Turner said: ‘Hewa Rahimpur’s network was, at the time of his arrest, one of the most prolific criminal groups involved in small boat crossings, playing a part in transporting thousands of migrants to the UK.

‘Bringing him to justice required the co-operation of law enforcement across Europe.

‘It demonstrates the NCA’s determination to do all we can to disrupt and dismantle these dangerous people smuggling gangs, who treat human lives as a commodity to be profited from while exploiting the UK border.

‘And our work is continuing – the NCA alone currently has around 90 investigations ongoing into high-level organised immigration crime, including those using boats and HGVs.

‘The criminal networks do not care about the safety of those they transport, and are happy to put people in extremely dangerous and life-threatening situations.

‘This is why disrupting and dismantling them remains a key priority for us.’

Content source – www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com

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