East Ham men who produced counterfeit passports jailed
- Credit: Home Office
Two members of a gang who used counterfeit documents to enable migrants to reach the UK illegally have been jailed.
Kingston Crown Court heard how Muhammad Akram and his wife Shahanara Chowdhury, both of Cotswold Gardens, East Ham, and Qazi Shahid, of Sandford Road, East Ham, were involved with producing passports with false details and photographs of people intending to enter the UK.
The counterfeit documents were then couriered out to mainland Europe where they were used to attempt entry into the UK via transport hubs in Belgium, France and Italy.
Akram, 41, was arrested in November following a surveillance operation led by Immigration Enforcement’s criminal investigation team, and was found to have five counterfeit passports in his possession.
Chowdhury, 34, was arrested the same day after being found with a bag containing false travel documents.
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Shahid’s home was searched and officers found an extensive supply of counterfeit passports and component parts along with paraphernalia associated with the production of forged and counterfeit documents.
Akram and Chowdhury pleaded guilty to the charges against them on the first day of their trial in May while Shahid pleaded not guilty but was convicted.
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On Friday, Akram was jailed for four years and 11 months for both conspiracy to facilitate a breach of immigration law and conspiracy to possession of false identity documents with intent, to run concurrently.
Shahid was jailed for seven years for each of the same charges, plus five years of possession of articles or material with prohibited intentions contrary to section 5 of the Identity Documents Act, to run concurrently.
Chowdhury was sentenced to 13 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and 120 hours of community work for possession of false identity documents without reasonable excuse.
A charge of perverting the course of justice was kept on file.
Assistant director Martin Huxley, from the Immigration Enforcement team, said: “This has been a complex investigation but the dedication of our officers has paid dividends as this gang has been given prison sentences.
“It should serve as a warning to anyone thinking of abusing our immigration rules.”