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Woman who arranged sham marriages in Blackburn is jailed
A WOMAN who masterminded a sham marriage ring made almost £30,000 for arranging nine unlawful fake weddings.
Maria Loureiro, 54, arranged for nine Portuguese women to be flown from Lisbon to England to marry nine Indian men, who wanted to remain in the country.
The men had all entered the country legally, but their visas were due to expire, or had already expired.
Yesterday she and 10 others were jailed for their roles in the ‘marriages’, six of which took place in Blackburn.
Manchester Crown Court heard Portuguese national Loureiro, 54, of Danes Road, London, arranged nine marriages between February 2011 and July 2012.
The court heard there was evidence to show she received £27,000 in payments.
Charlotte Holland, prosecuting, said the crimes came to light after a registrar at Blackburn and Darwen Register Office raised the alarm because she believed a number of the couples did not know each other.
One of the brides did not even know her bridegroom’s name.
Loureiro was seen at a number of the ceremonies acting as an interpreter.
Judge Hernandez, sentencing, said: “These offences strike at the heart of the immigration system and undermine the status of marriage.”
Loureiro, a mother of two teenagers who moved to London with her family, was jailed for 45 months.
Ilias Neki, 46, of Argo Street, Daubhill, Bolton, who was the ‘conduit’ between the Indian men and Loureiro, was jailed for 32 months.
Grooms Yusunbbhai Duka, 30, of Carnarvon Road, Blackburn; Inayat Tailor, 26, of no fixed address, a graduate who worked as an IT technician in Bolton; Mehul Patel, 31, of St Helens Road, Daubhill; Sajuaddin Man- suri, 27, of Mancroft Avenue, Daubhill; Amjad Patel, 23, of Hopefield Street, Daubhill; and Sarfran Mirja, 23, of Mancroft Avenue, Daubhill, were all jailed for 16 months.
Bhavesh Baodara, 22, of Derby Street, Daubhill, was jailed for 18 months.
Faisal Chand, 25, also of Derby Street, who had a year-long relationship with his bride, was jailed for 15 months. His bride, Andreia Nogueira, was the only one who stayed in the country after the weddings.
She will be sentenced on April 26.
Mitesh Panjari, 25, of Olive Street, Daubhill, who changed his mind and did not go through with the wedding, was jailed for 13 months and two weeks.
All defendants admitted conspiring to assist unlawful immigration.