Lorry driver jailed for smuggling migrants into UK

time:2023-06-04 15:01:32 source:Al Jazeera

A man who smuggled migrants into the UK in the back of his refrigerated lorry has been jailed.

Marinel Danut Palage transported migrants on a ferry from France to Portsmouth, before driving them to Runcton, near Chichester, West Sussex.

The operation was carried out at least three times, bringing about 10 to 12 people illegally into the UK, Bournemouth Crown Court heard.

The 31-year-old was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Palage, a Romanian national who lived in Spain, was a key member of an organised crime group, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

He and four others were arrested in March 2019 following a four-year investigation.

During a search of his cab, plastic bags containing £34,500 in cash, with further bundles of euros and sterling to the value of about £7,000, were discovered hidden behind a tachograph panel.

Sentencing Palage, Judge William Mousley KC said: "You expected, and received, large sums of money for your involvement."

The judge added that Palage had shown no remorse as he had gone on to carry out similar offences in Germany and had to be extradited to stand trial in the UK.

He ordered that Palage's vehicle and the money found be seized.

Pshtewan Ghafour, 37, from Middlesbrough, was also jailed for five years for his role in the organisation.

The group's ringleader Goran Jalal, 37, from Bradford, remains wanted by the NCA having absconded following his arrest.

Kamaran Kader, 44, from Bradford; Mariwan Mustafa, 33, from Halifax; and Manchester duo Jamal Saied, 38, and 37-year-old Hemin Salih, who has also absconded, will be sentenced separately for their part in the network.

NCA branch commander Richard Harrison said: "This people smuggling group were content to put vulnerable migrants, including children, in the back of refrigerated lorries for hours on end during dangerous Channel crossings.

"It is clear from the evidence we found that their sole reason was for profit, without any regard to the migrants' safety."

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