Sentenced to Five Years
An air steward who tried to smuggle fake passports into the UK by hiding them in his underpants has been sentenced to five years.
Shaukat Ali Cheema, a senior air steward for Pakistan International Airlines, had 26 passports, 37 biodata passport pages and 13 driving licences hidden in his briefs when Border Force officers arrested him as he passed through the customs channel at Birmingham Airport on 22 March 2015.
The documents were concealed within special pockets and compartments sewn into the pants.
The investigation was passed to the National Crime Agency’s Border Policing Command, who charged Cheema with seven counts of possessing false identity documents with improper intention.
Cheema, who had 40 years service with the airline, pleaded guilty and was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court.
Dawn Cartwright, from the National Crime Agency’s Border Policing Command, said: “The passports and driving licences that Cheema attempted to smuggle in his pants were intended for people across Europe and beyond: Italy, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Pakistan.
“Fake documents are a serious concern for law enforcement. Those driving licences could have ended up in the hands of people who weren’t qualified, or safe, to drive. And more generally, fake and fraudulently obtained documents helps criminals to avoid law enforcement detection and carry on in their criminality. We continue to work together with Border Force to make sure those who try to make life easy for criminals are intercepted and brought to justice.”