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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May, 2005, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Two jailed over people smuggling
A man and a woman involved in smuggling people out of India to work at fish-and-chip shops in Shropshire have been jailed for a total of two years.

Bakshinder Chatha, 35, from Dorrington, Shrewsbury, helped an illegal immigrant get a national insurance number and was sentenced to nine months in prison.

Charan Singh, 48, of Harebell Close, Leics, was sentenced to 15 months after he was found driving an immigrant.

Balwinder Chatha, 44, owner of the takeaways, will be sentenced this week.

Addresses raided

Chatha, of Dorrington, Shrewsbury, admitted breaching immigration law at an earlier hearing.

He was arrested in October 2003 when National Crime Squad officers raided 17 addresses, including 12 takeaway outlets, in Shropshire and Powys.

The raids focused on his involvement in the trafficking of Sikhs from the Punjab area of India through Paris and into the UK.

Officers found 18 illegal immigrants. French authorities arrested four people and detained 11 illegal immigrants in raids in Paris, as part of the same operation.

Transport fee

Detective Superintendent Paul Owen, of the National Crime Squad, said the immigrants paid thousands of pounds to the sophisticated network and were put up in safe houses in France before being transported to the UK.

Chatha arranged for the immigrants to work in one of his shops to pay off their transport fee.

They also had to work to pay off the Indian passports he gave them in their name that had forged "leave to stay" stamps on them.

His sister-in-law was described as having a "support role" and looked after the immigrants when they arrived in the Shropshire area and did his accounts.

Some of the illegal immigrants were housed above the fish-and-chip shops and at his home.

The operation follows information from another gang who were smuggling people into the UK for Chatha's gang. They were jailed in May last year for a total of 20 years.


SEE ALSO:
People-smuggling sentence delayed
18 Feb 05 |  Shropshire
Chip shop mogul trafficked people
17 Nov 04 |  Shropshire
Two charged after raids
09 Oct 03 |  Shropshire


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