Cricklewood barber and gang convicted after people smuggling plot

Gul Wali Jabarkhel, 33, of Topaz Walk, Cricklewood

Gul Wali Jabarkhel, 33, of Topaz Walk, Cricklewood, was using his barbershop as a front to commit organised immigration crime. - Credit: NCA

A Cricklewood barber and three accomplices have been convicted following efforts to recruit lorry drivers to traffic migrants into the UK illegally. 

An National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation found that 33-year-old Gul Wali Jabarkhel, of Topaz Walk, was using his barbershop in Colindale as a front to commit organised crime. 

The 33-year-old was attempting to recruit lorry drivers to smuggle immigrants from northern France and Belgium into the UK. 

In September 2020, Jabarkhel offered a driver £2,500 for each person smuggled, with payment to be made upon completion of each journey. 

Jabarkhel intended to organise as many as three smuggling runs a month - taking up to five people each time. 

The first of these runs was scheduled for November 2020, however that plan was abandoned. 

Instead, Jabarkhel left to Afghanistan with 47-year-old co-conspirator Baz Mohammed Jabarkhil, of Woodcroft Avenue in Mill Hill. 

Baz Mohammed Jabarkhil, 47, of Woodcroft Avenue, Mill Hill

Baz Mohammed Jabarkhil, 47, of Woodcroft Avenue, Mill Hill - Credit: NCA

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The NCA then worked to prevent them from returning to the UK. 

Jabarkhel and Jabarkhil would make repeated attempts to re-enter the UK illegally using lorry drivers they had tried to recruit. 

The men eventually arranged to be smuggled in April 2021, at a cost of £7,500 each.

They arranged for 19-year-old Rehan Murudkar, of Banstock Road, Edgware and 28-year-old Mohammad Rafique, of Warren Road, Dollis Hill to arrange a cash handover at the London Gateway Services on the M1. 

Rehan Murudkar, 19, of Banstock Road, Edgware

Rehan Murudkar, 19, of Banstock Road, Edgware - Credit: NCA

The NCA was aware of the transaction and shortly after the cash was paid, Murudkar and Rafique were arrested on suspicion of money laundering.  

Both men denied any involvement in the people smuggling plot. 

However, repeated phone calls, audio and text message exchanges with Jabarkhel and Jabarkhil contradicted their statements. 

Mohammad Rafique, of Warren Road, Dollis Hill

Mohammad Rafique, of Warren Road, Dollis Hill - Credit: NCA

Meanwhile, Jabarkhel believed he had successfully smuggled himself back into the UK, but officers arrested him at his barber shop on July 8, last year. 

Jabarkhil entered the UK illegally two months later in a small boat, after which he was detained and arrested for people smuggling offences.

All four men were convicted yesterday - April 25 - following a six-week trial at Kingston Crown Court.

Rafique and Murudkar captured handing over thousands in cash to a lorry driver at London Gateway Services on the M1

Rafique and Murudkar captured handing over thousands in cash to a lorry driver at London Gateway Services on the M1 - Credit: NCA

Jabarkhil pleaded guilty to illegally entering the UK in September 2021.

Jabarkhel pleaded guilty in an earlier hearing for his part in the conspiracy to smuggle Jabarkhil into the UK.  

They will be sentenced on June 1. 

NCA senior investigating officer Chris Hill said: “This gang were ruthless operators who regarded human beings as little more than goods to profit from."