Two gang members jailed in UK for smuggling 41 Syrian migrants
Mohamed Awad and Ahmad Omar, two members of an organized crime group who smuggled over 40 Syrian migrants into the UK, have been jailed.
The defendants both pleaded guilty to assisting unlawful immigration.
Awad, aged 25, of London, was sentenced on Tuesday to two years and eight months at Laganside Crown Court for his role in facilitating the unlawful immigration of 41 Syrian nationals.
Meanwhile, 40-year-old Omar from Belfast was sentenced to two years in March for his role as a paid driver in the criminal operation.
The two were caught following an investigation by the UK Home Office’s Criminal and Financial Investigations unit, which found that the international smuggling gang was charging migrants around £5,000 ($6,200) per journey.
It is estimated that the gang made more than £200,000 by facilitating the Syrian nationals into the UK in November 2021.
The gang provided false identity documents and arranged flights from Belfast to Britain to facilitate the illegal entry of the migrants through abuse of the Common Travel Area between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Officers carried out search warrants at addresses in Belfast and London on March 10, 2022. Upon arresting the two defendants, officers seized £8,000 in cash and an SUV as part of the investigation.
“We are committed to dismantling people-smuggling networks and will stop at nothing to bring them to justice,” Ben Thomas, deputy director from the Criminal and Financial Investigation unit, said.
Thomas added: “We would like to thank our policing partners in Northern Ireland who assisted us in this investigation.
“We will continue to work closely with them to save lives and ensure that people smugglers face the consequences of their despicable crimes.”