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Chilean pickpockets who preyed on London tourists jailed

TWO South American professional pickpockets who came to London to prey on tourists are to be deported after being jailed for a year yesterday. Police described Mario Moreno Cabezas, 30, and Guillermo Barraza, 27, as members of an 'international cartel of Chilean pickpockets'.

Cabezas had already been deported from Denmark, the Netherlands, and Belgium, Horseferry Road magistrates court, in central London, was told. 'He is a one-man Chilean crime wave, according to the police,' Nazir Afzal, for the prosecution, said.

The men were arrested at Paddington Underground station when they tried to steal a woman's purse just two days after their arrival in Britain on 25 May, Mr Afzal told the court. At Heathrow Airport earlier that day, they had stolen a flight bag and contents, worth pounds 200, from a French tourist.

They admitted theft and attempted theft, and making a false statement to immigration officers at Ramsgate.

After the hearing, Detective Constable Kevin Fletcher, of the British Transport Police's Pickpockets Squad, said: 'They are part of an international cartel of Chilean pickpockets . . . They come over at the beginning of May to catch events such as the Chelsea Flower Show, Wimbledon, and the Harrods sale and to prey on the general tourist hubbub of summer.'