Channel people-smuggling ‘kingpin’ dealing with extradition to Belgium

A suspected “kingpin” of people-smuggling operations throughout the Channel has been arrested and is dealing with extradition.

Iranian Hewa Rahimpur was detained by officers in east London on Wednesday afternoon, the National Crime Agency (NCA) mentioned.

The 29-year-old, who was residing in Ilford, is needed by authorities in Belgium, “where he is suspected of being a leading figure in a network said by prosecutors to be engaged in ‘systematic human-smuggling’ offences using small boats”.

He is because of seem at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday the place extradition proceedings are anticipated to start.

Hewa Rahimpur was arrested by the National Crime Agency in east London on Wednesday. (NCA/PA)

(PA Media)

According to the NCA, Rahimpur is accused of sourcing boats in Turkey and having them delivered to Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, after which directing “other members of his criminal organisation to take them on to the northern French coast, from where migrants would be transported”.

The investigation started after police seized boats and outboard motors from the again of a automotive close to the Belgian-French border in October 2021.

Jacque Beer, the NCA’s deputy director of investigations, mentioned: “Rahimpur 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.

“Many of the criminal gangs involved in these crossings are based outside of the UK, but where we do find they have a UK footprint we will act swiftly to disrupt and dismantle them.”

One of the methods the NCA has sought to disrupt people-smuggling networks is by concentrating on their provide of boats.

Andrea Wilson, the organisation’s deputy director of organised immigration crime, described a few of the vessels as “nothing short of death-traps, held together using gaffer tape and planks of wood”.

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