Airline steward smuggled fake passports in specially adapted underpants

Shaukat Ali Cheema was arrested at Birmingham Airport in March

Updated: 
Smuggling fake passports Pakistan International Airlines Shaukat Ali Cheema

An airline steward who tried to smuggle fake passports by hiding them in a pair of specially adapted underpants has been jailed for five years.

Shaukat Ali Cheema was arrested at Birmingham Airport in March after 26 passports and 37 biodata passport pages were discovered in his briefs.

Border Force staff also found 13 driving licences which Cheema - a senior steward with Pakistan International Airlines - had concealed in pockets and compartments sewn into the pants. WORDS: PA.

Smuggling fake passports Pakistan International Airlines Shaukat Ali Cheema

In a statement issued after Cheema was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court, the National Crime Agency said the 59-year-old had 40 years of service with Pakistan's national carrier.

Dawn Cartwright, of the NCA's Border Policing Command, said: "The passports and driving licences that Cheema attempted to smuggle in his pants were intended for people across Europe and beyond.

Smuggling fake passports Pakistan International Airlines Shaukat Ali Cheema

"Fake documents are a serious concern for law enforcement. Those driving licences could have ended up in the hands of people who weren't qualified, or safe, to drive.

"And more generally, fake and fraudulently obtained documents helps criminals to avoid law enforcement detection and carry on in their criminality."

It is thought the counterfeit documents were intended for use in Italy, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Pakistan.

Cheema, from Pakistan, pleaded guilty to possessing false identity documents with improper intention.

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