A SHAM marriage gang who arranged ceremonies in Wrexham have been jailed.
Maria Loureiro, 54, masterminded multiple fake marriages between Portuguese brides and Indian grooms, often travelling with the brides, acting as translator and waiting outside while some sham marriages took place.
Manchester Crown Court was told the brides would fly into the UK on short pre-arranged trips and apply for documents and National Insurance numbers.
They would then marry the Indian nationals with ceremonies taking place
in Wrexham, Chester and in Blackburn.
Portuguese national Loureiro, from London, was the main facilitator of the sham marriages, which often took place without the couple even talking to each other.
She was jailed for 45 months after pleading guilty to facilitating the entry of non-European Union persons into the UK.
The Indian grooms were trying to gain the right to remain in the UK as the sham marriages meant they could apply for residency as spouses of EU nationals.
But the gang was caught following a UK Border Agency investigation lasting 18 months.
Six gang members admitted conspiracy to attempt to breach immigration law
in December with the remaining six pleading guilty last month.
The 10 bridegrooms, who were all living in Lancashire, were jailed for between 32 months and 13 months and two weeks.
Speaking after the hearing, immigration minister Mark Harper said: “UKBA is taking strong action to crack down on sham marriages.
“The lengthy sentences handed out today 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.”
Nick Wood, head of the UK Border Agency North West Immigration Crime Team, said: “This sends out a clear message that we will not tolerate abuse of our immigration system.
“Those who take part in sham marriages will be held accountable for their actions.”
Anyone who has information about immigration abuse should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where information can be given anonymously.
THE gang and their sentences including charges and plea details:
Guilty of facilitating the entry of non EU persons into the UK
Maria Loureiro, 54-45 months
Guilty of conspiracy to attempt to breach immigration law:
Ilyas Neki, 46: 32 months.
Sajauddin Mansuri, 27: 16 months.
Mehulkumar Patel, 3: 16 months.
Yunusbhai Duka, 30: 16 months.
Faisal Chand, 25: 15 months.
Inayathussain Tailor, 26: 16 months.
Bhavesh Bapodora, 22: 18 months.
Amjadhushen Patel, 23: 16 months.
Safvan Mirja, 23: 16 months.
Mitesh Panjari, 24: 13 months and two weeks.
Andreia Nogueira, 23: to be sentenced on April 26.