Cross-channel people smuggler behind bars in Belgium

A member of a criminal network which smuggled up to 20 migrants a night into the UK has been extradited to Belgium to begin a lengthy prison sentence.
Iraqi national Sleman Basak Ahmed, 33, was convicted in his absence by a Belgian court and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment while in custody in the UK.
Investigators from the National Crime Agency and Belgian Federal Police identified Ahmed, and accomplice Shamel Omer Zorab, 37, as having collected payment from migrants who illegally entered the UK after being loaded into lorries at motorway service stations.
The men were also found to have been in direct contact with 12 other members of the Kurdish crime network who have since been convicted in Belgium for cross-channel smuggling of migrants from nations including Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan.
They received prison sentences of between six and 12 years each.
Zorab and Ahmed were apprehended on European Arrest Warrants in January 2016.
Zorab was detained at an address in Eccles, Salford, and Ahmed in Frimley Green, Birmingham. West Midlands and Greater Manchester Police officers supported the NCA’s operation.
Zorab was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment by the Belgian court.  He remains in custody in the UK as legal proceedings continue.
Colin Williams, NCA branch operations manager, said: “Zorab and Ahmed were part of an extensive crime group which made money from evading border controls and facilitating potentially dangerous journeys between the UK and mainland Europe.
“The NCA worked closely with domestic and Belgian partners to locate and apprehend them, and we continue to take all possible action against the perpetrators of organised immigration crime impacting the UK.”

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