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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 June, 2004, 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK
Scotland Yard tackles Asian crime gangs

By Barnie Choudhury
BBC Radio 4's File On 4

Police at crime scene
Supenthar Ramachandran's body was found blistered by fire
The Metropolitan Police has given the BBC exclusive access to its plans for a new unit to fight crime by and on South Asians in Britain. British Asian criminal gangs have been linked to activities ranging from human trafficking and passport forgery to kidnapping and murder.

He looked so young - not old enough to be the uncle of a teenager. But that is what he was.

We met at a park in West London. He was simply too scared to meet where he lived.

That is because he is a Tamil and since 2000, eleven Tamils have been murdered by other Tamils in the capital.

His nephew Supenthar Ramachandran was 18 when he was brutally killed by a Tamil gang.

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"They were having food in the restaurant and drinks, and my nephew was asked to pay the money," he told me through an interpreter.

He didn't have enough money - for that they beat my nephew. Later they decided rather than taking him to the hospital they would take him and set him alight. I don't know if they burned him alive or after killing him."

Similar horrific deaths are repeated among all the main South Asian communities.

File On 4 has spoken to the daughter of a man machine-gunned down in East London over a car-parking space.

My dad was clenching his whole body and he was starting to fall to the ground
Amarjit Singh's daughter

Anyone with information on the Singh double murder should call the police in the UK on 0208 3451556

Amarjit and Rajinder Singh ran the Forest View Hotel in Forest Fields. At the back of the hotel is a car park for customers.

For weeks they had asked worshippers to a nearby mosque not to block the access.

On Friday 29 August they argued with some worshippers. Twenty minutes later they were dead.

Amarjit's daughter has never spoken publicly before but she told me what happened.

"The sound of the gun was so loud and I saw what I now know are bullet casings falling to the ground," she remembers.

"My dad sort of stumbled and turned around towards me. I saw his face, I knew he'd been
Rajinder Singh,left, 35, and his uncle Amarjit Singh, 52
The Singhs were shot dead apparently after a row over parking
hurt, badly.

"My dad was clenching his whole body and he was starting to fall to the ground. My cousin too was sort of staggering a bit and he'd been shot."

She had a narrow escape.

Documents given to File On 4 show that in the past decade murders involving South Asians have gone up by 300%. Kidnappings and drug related crime are also increasing.

International crimes

The type of crime being committed is also evolving. South Asian criminals are getting into everything. They are exploiting their cultural roots and community contacts.

As Professor Kamlesh Patel from the University of Central Lancashire puts it, there are clear differences between black, white and South Asian criminals.

"They operate within families and clans. They have links to criminal activity in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, or even places like Canada where large Asian communities have settled.

Recovered weapons
Weapons have been recovered from Tamil crime suspects.
"You've got the potential to disappear, or launder money abroad."

That international link was demonstrated in a recent case foiled by the National Crime Squad with help from the American, Canadian, French, Italian and Spanish authorities.

It was the largest proactive operation into organised immigration crime Britain's ever seen.

The gang, whose ringleader lived in Birmingham, had been trafficking humans for 12 years.

They charged between 3,000 to 8,000 a time to get people from India and Europe to the UK via Ethiopia and Dubai.

Passport forgery

Detective Sergeant Lawrence Gibbons from the National Crime Squad explains.

"One of their most popular and easy methods used was what we call a photo substitute British Passport.

"This meant that the gang would obtain British passports from people residing within Britain and normally by way of burglary or robbery.

"The gang would be careful to profile the passport to ensure that the age and height on the passport roughly matched that of the illegal immigrant."

It is for these reasons that the Metropolitan Police are setting up a new unit to tackle South Asian organised crime.

It will be based on the successful Operation Trident initiative that is tackling gun and drug crime in London's black communities.

'Crime ghettos'

The first phase, being launched in a few weeks, will gather intelligence. This will cost 5 m a year to run.

The man in charge of the Met's Specialist Crime Directorate, Assistant Commissioner, Tarique Ghaffur, hopes it will be fully up and running in a year.

Mr. Ghaffur warns of "crime ridden ghettos" if the idea is not taken up.

"The consequences are that there will be increased murder rate, increased gun violence and organised crime will go up."

Some in the South Asian communities will hate the idea of targeting minority groups. They fear it will criminalise and stigmatise them.

But experts warn that without action now a criminal market will grow and become increasingly difficult to dismantle.

File On 4: BBC Radio 4: Tuesday 15 June at 2000 BST and repeated on Sunday 20 June at 1700 BST.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
The BBC's Barnie Choudhury
"Over the past four years 11 Tamils have been murdered"



SEE ALSO:
'Stop the dealers' says Met
17 Jan 03  |  England


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