A Vietnamese woman who ran the UK arm of an international people smuggling gang has been jailed for 5 years, following an investigation by the UK Border Agency.
Thuy Nguyen, a 41-year-old Vietnamese national, was arrested at her home in Bow, east London, in February 2011 as part of an operation involving law enforcement agencies in 5 different countries.
Nguyen was a member of a criminal network which would smuggle immigrants from Vietnam to Europe via Moscow or Paris, charging them up to £12,000 each.
The network had cells in France, Germany, Hungary and the Czech Republic, and Europol carried out simultaneous operation in these countries alongside the UK Border Agency’s arrest of Nguyen.
Andy Cummins, head of the UK Border Agency’s South East region immigration crime team, said:
‘Nguyen exploited vulnerable immigrants to profit a major international organised criminal network. This was a major pan-European investigation involving law enforcement agencies in five European countries.
‘Working with the police and other law enforcement partners at home and abroad we are determined to tackle the organised criminals who prey on vulnerable immigrants, and take action against those who break the law.’
Nguyen originally came to the attention of the UK authorities after her car was pulled over by traffic police at Clackett Lane Service Station on the M25 in November 2010.
Her 2 passengers that day were both Vietnamese illegal immigrants. Officers also found £11,000 cash in a plastic bag. She was arrested and later bailed, but further enquiries linked her to an organised crime group being investigated by French police.
This led to the our operation. As Nguyen was re-arrested by officers from our criminal and financial investigation team in London, European law enforcement agencies carried out co-ordinated raids in Paris, Prague, Berlin, Munich and Budapest. In total there were more than 30 arrests.
Nguyen was charged with conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration, and stood trial at Maidstone Crown Court. She was found guilty and sentenced on 17 November.
A Proceeds of Crime investigation has now been launched to seize profits made by Nguyen as a result of the scam. Source: UK Border Agency.
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