The smirking ringleader of gang who lived affluent lifestyle by smuggling the vulnerable into Kent concealed amid furniture and tyres
PUBLISHED: 14:30 06 April 2017 | UPDATED: 14:30 06 April 2017
He also made £450,000 in his role of making fake injury claims to defraud car insurance companies
The ringleader of a criminal gang which conspired to smuggle migrants into Kent, hidden between second hand furniture, bedding and tyres, has been sentenced to 10 years behind bars.
He was jailed for his role in the gang and for creaming off more than £450,000 in organising a ‘cash for crash’ fraud in and around Medway, aimed at defrauding car insurance companies.
During 2015, men, women and children from countries including China, Iraq and Vietnam were transported inside hire vans during return trips from Dover to Calais.
In one instance, a van was stopped at Dover docks whilst returning from France and 12 Vietnamese nationals were discovered inside, concealed under mattresses.
It sparked a major investigation by police and the Home Office which uncovered a criminal network responsible.
It identified Rameo Mohammed, 30, formerly of Goldcrest Driver, Chatham, as the ringleader.
Mohammed, previously known as Mohammed Sangak, was initially arrested in September 2015. Mobile phones attributed to him were shown to be linked to phones of people he had paid to cross the border and smuggle migrants into the UK. There was also evidence of contact between him and some of the migrants.
The investigation revealed at one stage how Mohammed had bought second hand furniture from a charity shop in Station Road, Rainham and loaded it into a hire vehicle which later made a return trip to France via Folkestone.
Six other people were arrested in connection with the investigation and they were sentenced to a total of 25 years in 2016.
Mohammed appeared at Maidstone Crown Court having previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to do an act to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK immigration law by a non EU person.
He was also sentenced for a separate offence of conspiracy to defraud, following a trial relating to a scam to defraud insurance companies through the submission of fake injury claims, arising from motor vehicle collisions.
Documents found at his home included 75 hand drawn maps of accidents predominantly in the Medway area.
Text messages on mobile phones also showed his involvement in a highly organised ‘cash for crash’ style frauds.
There was a common theme in which everyone had whiplash injuries, and claims included multiple collisions between people from Chatham and people from Ipswich. His bank accounts revealed he had received more than £450,000 in pay-outs.
Detective inspector Gary Scarfe of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: “Rameo Mohammed lived an affluent lifestyle feeding off the criminal benefits of organised human trafficking into the UK. He was a principal organiser in arranging large numbers of vulnerable migrants to be facilitated into the UK for potential future exploitation by other organised crime groups.
“Mohammed evidenced a total disregard for the inhumane conditions that these adult and child victims were exposed to, whilst being transported in vans hired and driven by those who worked for him in his criminal enterprise.
“His conviction and the dismantling of this organised crime group is one of many successful convictions by Kent Police since the UK Modern Slavery Act came into Force in 2015. Working in partnership with other law enforcement and partnership agencies we are focused on relentlessly pursuing the perpetrators of this despicable criminal trade.
“We also continue to urge the public to report any suspicion of potential transporting of concealed individuals into and within the UK as well as concerns for potential victims of modern slavery at the hands of others.”