A family who worked illegal Chinese immigrants "round-the-clock" as part of Britain's biggest piracy scam were sentenced today
The “sophisticated” gang, which made up to £7 million, hid behind a “veneer of respectability” by importing hi-tech equipment from the Far East.
Khalid Sheikh, 53, and sons Rafi, 26, and Sami, 28, used it to copy the latest box office hits like Ice Age 2, the Da Vinci Code and Iron Man to “the best industry standards possible”. The gang would then sell the new releases on street corners for as little as £3, sometimes well before the films were available in cinemas.
The court also heard how the family, who were all claiming benefits, also reproduced so many porn and bestiality films some sex film shops were driven out of business.
The work was done by a staff of largely illegal Chinese immigrants working in a string of cramped factories using semi-detached houses scattered across London. The operation had enough raw materials to copy hundreds of thousands of DVDs.
John Hardy, QC, prosecuting, told Southwark Crown Court that the Chinese immigrants “worked round-the-clock in conditions of virtual slavery”.
Today, Rafi and Sami Sheikh from North Chingford, Essex, were each jailed for six years. Their father, Khalid, who lived with them, was jailed for four years.
Police believe much of the gang’s vast profits have been smuggled out of the country. However, tens of thousands were spent by some of the conspirators on first class flights to luxury holiday destinations around the world, as well as visiting lap dancing clubs such as Spearmint Rhino.
The younger Sheikhs were convicted at an earlier trial of conspiracy to contravene copyright laws, contravene the trade mark legislation and acquire criminal property between March 2003 and June 2006 when they were arrested in co-ordinated police raids. Their father was found guilty of the copyright plot.