UK: Landlord Jailed for Renting Properties to Gangs

UK authorities have put a Chinese man behind bars for renting out hundreds of properties to gangs to be used in prostitution, drug trafficking and human smuggling.

Feng Xu, a Chinese national, is seen after being arrested by British authorities. (National Crime Agency)Feng Xu, a Chinese national, is seen after being arrested by British authorities. (National Crime Agency)Feng Xu was arrested in Birmingham, England in May 2019 and was sentenced on Friday to more than seven years in prison after pleading guilty to 22 offences, ranging from fraud to money laundering.

The 43 years-old underworld landlord used fake identities to rent 446 properties to various criminal groups who would then set them up as brothels, cannabis farms or to house illegal immigrants, the National Crime Agency said.

In two cases, police raided two properties and discovered large-scale marijuana farms being operated there.

Police discovered during a raid 31 different false or fraudulent Chinese or Portuguese passports, along with numerous identification documents and £94,000 (US$121,000) in cash.

"We believe that this case goes way beyond one man," said National Crime Agency branch commander Martin Grace said. "In taking Xu out we will have caused significant disruption to a number of different organised crime groups involved in prostitution, people smuggling and drug production."

Xu is believed to have arrived in the UK in 1996 as a student, staying illegally from 2000 until his arrest.

He will face deportation after his prison sentence, police say.