UK arrests alleged ‘ringleader’ of Channel human trafficking | Crime News

Iranian Hewa Rahimpur, 29, is accused of “systematic trafficking in human beings” and risks being extradited to Belgium.

A suspected ‘ringleader’ of cross-Channel people smuggling operations has been arrested in the UK and faces extradition.

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

The 29-year-old man, who lived in Ilford, in the eastern suburbs of London, is wanted by the Belgian authorities, “where he is suspected of being a figurehead of a network which, according to the prosecutors, is engaged in to “systematic trafficking in human beings”.’ crimes using small boats”.

He is due to appear in Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, where extradition proceedings are expected to begin.

According to the NCA, Rahimpur is accused of procuring boats in Turkey and having them delivered to Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, then ordering “other members of his criminal organization to take them on the northern coast of France, from where the migrants would be transported”.

“A major player”

The investigation began after police seized boats and outboard motors from the back of a car near the Belgium-France border in October 2021.

Jacque Beer, the NCA’s deputy director of investigations, said: “Rahimpur is accused of being a major player in what we would say is one of the largest criminal networks involved in supplying boats to smugglers.”

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

One of the ways the NCA has sought to disrupt smuggling networks is to focus on supplying them with boats.

Andrea Wilson, the organization’s deputy director of immigration organized crime, described some of the vessels as ‘nothing less than death traps, held together with duct tape and planks of wood’ .