Five members of a criminal gang who smuggled Sri Lankans into the UK from France have been jailed for a total of 23 years. The men, four Sri Lankans and one British national, were caught after investigation, supported by Kent Police, the National Crime Agency (NCA), Europol and French, German and Swiss law enforcement agencies.
The gang helped Sri Lankan illegal immigrants attempting to reach the UK by smuggling them in vehicles through the Channel ports.
The court heard how the five men charged their Sri Lankan ‘clients’ around £4,500 each for the service. Many of the smuggling attempts were foiled by officers who discovered stowaways hiding in vehicles stopped at ports including Calais, Dunkerque, Coquelles and Dover.
Of those who reached the UK, some would also travel onwards from the UK to North America using falsified documents. Investigations are ongoing to find the individuals who entered the UK illegally.
On 29th January at Maidstone crown court, the gang’s ringleader, 37-year-old Sudharsan Jeyakodi, of Bradley Road, Luton, was jailed for 5 years and 4 months. His accomplices Kamalanesan Kandiah, 39, Chubramanian Vignarajah, 42, British national Amarjit Mudhar, 46, and John Anes Soundaranayagam Uvais, 41, were jailed for 5 years, 3 years and 4 months, 4 years and 8 months and 5 years respectively.
Illegal workers caught in Northern Ireland
The restaurant, on St. Patrick’s Avenue, was found to be employing three illegal workers.
Officers arrested a 55-year-old Bangladeshi man, who had entered the country illegally, and two further Bangladeshi men, aged 30 and 35, who had overstayed their visas.
All three are currently in detention while steps are taken to remove them from the country.
People smugglers jailed
Two Polish lorry drivers who attempted to smuggle a group of Albanians into the UK through North Shields ferry port have both been jailed for 18 months.
Krzysztof Szabelski, 44, and Waldemar Kuchcinski, 41, were arrested on 30th November 2013 after Border Force officers at the port discovered the stowaways during vehicle searches.
Three men were found hiding underneath the driver’s bed inside Szabelski’s cab, and a fourth man was found at the side of Kuchcinski’s vehicle. He admitted to officers he had been hidden inside the lorry during the journey from Amsterdam.
Both lorries had arrived at North Shields from the Dutch port and were destined for a distribution centre in Glasgow.
Following an investigation by a specialist Home Office criminal investigations team, Szabelski and Kuchcinski were both charged with facilitating a breach of UK immigration law. They pleaded guilty in December and on 31th January 2014 they were both handed 18 month jail terms at Newcastle Crown Court.