Crime group leader who recruited illegal migrants to work at Sainsbury's jailed
The leader of a criminal gang which recruited illegal migrants to work as cleaners in Sainsbury’s supermarkets has been jailed for six years.
Momodou Chune, 55, from Oxford, was jailed for six years after being found guilty of six counts of assisting unlawful immigration and three counts of concealing criminal property.
Along with Chune, four others were sentenced at Oxfordshire Crown Court over their roles in the organised crime group which profited from the facilitation, work placement and housing of around 40 illegal workers, mainly from west Africa.
The defendants were caught following an investigation by the Home Office’s Criminal and Financial Investigations unit.
It’s estimated that over a decade of activity, the gang profited in the region of £600,000 from wages of illegal workers and "ghost" workers.
The majority of the illegal workers had more than one name and identity, with Chune faking employees in order to obtain more money in false wages from his employers.
Investigators found that, from 2006 to 2016, Chune abused his position as an area manager for two contract firms to employ illegal migrants to work as cleaning staff at nine Sainsbury’s stores in Oxfordshire and Wiltshire.
Chune recruited each of the illegal workers knowing they had no right to work. Evidence showed he had control over what the workers were paid as he had their wages paid into his accounts and the accounts of those close to him.
He also controlled where some of the illegal workers lived by providing them with rooms across his multi-million-pound property portfolio. The court heard Chune would pay illegal workers in cash but would deduct rent from those he housed.
Chune, alongside others in the gang, was found to have laundered more than £310,000 in wages through one of the contract companies to illegal workers and fake workers through multiple bank accounts.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick, said: “This is another example of the excellent work which Immigration Enforcement is carrying out around the clock to pursue offenders and bring them to justice.
“Illegal working not only encourages illegal migration - it damages our communities, cheats honest workers out of employment and defrauds the public purse as the businesses and workers do not pay taxes.
“That is why this government is cracking down on the practise by increasing our illegal working activity by 50% and relentlessly pursuing the ringleaders."
Chris Foster, Deputy Director of Criminal and Financial Investigations at the Home Office, said:“The leader of this criminal gang had ultimate control over these illegal workers to exploit them for personal gain.
"This has been a complex investigation and I want to thank my officers for their hard work, which has resulted in this crime group being stopped in their tracks.
“Immigration Enforcement will continue to dismantle criminal networks involved in illegal working and associated crime, putting offenders before the courts to feel the full weight of the law.”