Warning issued after sham marriage case
8:49am Friday 8th March 2013 in Local
n IMMIGRATION minister Mark Harper has warned that those who abuse immigration laws will be punished following the imprisonment of 11 people involved in a Bolton sham marriage ring.
Ring leader Maria Loureiro, pictured, aged 54, of Danes Road, London, was jailed for three years and nine months on Wednesday after flying Portuguese women into England to marry nine Indian men living in Bolton who wanted to remain living in the country.
Nine bridegrooms paid Loureiro thousands of pounds to supply brides. Evidence showed she received a minimum of £27,000 from the crimes.
Businessman and popular community member Iilas Neki, aged 46, of Argo Street, Bolton, was jailed for two years and eight months for working alongside Loureiro, acting as a conduit between her and the Indian men.
The nine grooms received sentences between 13 months and two weeks and 18 months.
Mr Harper said: “The UK Border Agency is taking strong action to crack down on sham marriages. The lengthy sentences handed out on Wednesday should serve as a warning: the UK is not a soft touch and those who seek to abuse the system will be caught and punished.
“Immigration crime preys on some of society's most vulnerable people and defrauds the taxpayer. We have the teams, specialist knowledge and resources to clamp down on those involved in this type of illegal activity.”