WATCH VIDEO: wanted 'serial child people smuggler' as he is arrested in hiding in west London home
A WANTED alleged child people smuggler is led away in handcuffs by police and National Crime Agency (NCA) officers after being caught hiding out in a west London home.
Assed Koluni, 43, aka Asad Al Jaban, was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by Belgium, where he is wanted on suspicion of the "people smuggling of minors".
He was one of nearly 297 fugitives wanted in overseas nations that were rounded up as part of a special operation during the lockdown between April 8 and June 26.
SHEEPISH: Assed Koluni is led away by officers after being located in west London (NCA)
The EAW states that it was "issued by Belgium for the offence of people smuggling, of minors, during which the lives of the victims are seriously or deliberately endangered, conducted on a regular basis and in the context of a criminal organisation."
Koluni has been remanded in custody while he fights extradition to Belgium.
The arrests were carried out by the NCA’s SEER (specialist entry and evidence recovery) team.
Another alleged people smuggler arrested during the operation was Afghan national Jafar Mohammad, 40, from Stephenson Road, Hanwell, west London, who was wanted on an EAW issued by Germany in January 2018 for human trafficking and organised immigration offences.
MONEY MAN: Jafar Mohammad is alleged to have run a money bureau for people smugglers (NCA)
An NCA spokesman said: "Mohammad is said to have run a money exchange bureau in Greece where illegal immigrants’ money was moved to people smugglers’ accounts.
"He is alleged to be part of a wider organised crime group that ran a mass facilitation from Greece throughout Europe between January and May 2018."
The SEER team arrested him at an address in Hanwell, west London.
He is fighting extradition and has been released by Westminster Magistrates' Court on conditional bail ahead of the next hearing.
Other fugitives arrested in the UK during lockdown included an alleged child sex abuser, a rapist and a man involved in sexual exploitation of adults.
The spokesman added: "The pandemic put unprecedented pressure on police forces’ resources.
"To ensure the country’s hunt for fugitives continued during lockdown the agency launched Operation Suricate – using its International Crime Bureau (ICB) and Extradition Team to ramp up intelligence work to locate offenders and help set up force colleagues to conduct arrests.
"Highest harm fugitives were targeted and prioritised."
WANTED: Arshid Ali Khan was arrested on an EAW from the Netherlands (NCA)
Arrests included Arshid Ali Khan, 38, who was wanted in the Netherlands for allegedly sexually abusing a child and making threats to kill; and Romanian national Constantin Adrian Postelnicu, 28, wanted by the Italian authorities for the alleged sexual exploitation of adults.
NCA investigators conducted financial checks on Khan – who had been on the run for six years - which put him at an address in Leicester.
The case was disseminated to Leicestershire Police who arrested him in April and he was removed from the UK in June.
ARRESTED: Constantin Adrian Postelnicu (NCA)
The NCA also advanced some financial intelligence which indicated Postelnicu was in Staffordshire.
The case was passed to the local force who arrested him.
Work between the NCA and policing partners also resulted in the capture of alleged rapist Stephen Bullman, 60.
British national Bullman was wanted in Dublin over a 2001 sex attack.
Existing intelligence suggested he was living in Cumbria.
But NCA investigators discovered he was actually in Chelmsford, Essex. The ICB team disseminated the job to Essex Police and he was arrested within 24 hours.
EXTRADITION: Bullman is resisting removal to Ireland (NCA)
Bullman, from Cobbs Place, Chelmsford, is fighting extradition and has been released by the court on conditional bail ahead of the next hearing.
Of the 297 arrested, 52 fugitives have been extradited so far.
Arthur Whitehead, operations manager at the ICB, said: “We’re very proud of identifying and helping to remove very dangerous offenders from the UK and returning them to face justice.
“At a time when UK law enforcement was responding to changes in demand because of the coronavirus, the NCA went into overdrive in its fugitives work.”
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for crime, Chief Constable Andy Cooke, said: “Some of the most dangerous criminals have been taken off our streets by this joined up law enforcement action.
“It shows once again the great results we can achieve, even during periods of strain, and sends a clear message to anyone causing harm in our communities – there is nowhere to hide.”