South Yorkshire man jailed for people smuggling

A Barnsley man has been jailed for running a people smuggling operation
A Barnsley man has been jailed for running a people smuggling operation
0
Have your say

A Barnsley man has been jailed for people smuggling after 20 illegal immigrants were found hidden in the back of a lorry which arrived in the UK from Holland.

A Barnsley man has been jailed for people smuggling after 20 illegal immigrants were found hidden in the back of a lorry which arrived in the UK from Holland.

Ferdinand Gjolla, of Redhill Avenue, Barnsley, was among three men jailed for their part in the operation.

The trio were found guilty of conspiring to facilitate unlawful entry into the UK, with Gjolla jailed for eight years, Marek Niedzwiecki sentenced to five years and Armando Mekolli imprisoned for three years, the Home Office said.

Border Force officers at the North Shields ferry terminal at the Port of Tyne inspected a lorry which had arrived from Holland in September 2015.

Twenty people - 19 from Albania and one from Syria - were found hidden in the trailer, which was carrying machinery.

The Home Office sad the driver, 33-year-old Polish national Niedzwiecki, was arrested and the investigation was passed to Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigation officers.

Forensic evidence showed that Niedzwiecki had been in contact with other people and the investigation led officers to Gjolla, whose home was raided.

Following further inquiries, Gjolla, 41, an Albanian national who is a naturalised British citizen, and his brother-in-law Mekolli, 30, were charged along with Niedzwiecki.

Investigators established that Gjolla was the main organiser, while Niedzwiecki, an HGV driver, was responsible for transporting the people into the UK, and Mekolli assisted Gjolla with the transportation of them once they arrived in the UK.

Rachael Luther, from the Immigration Enforcement Criminal Investigations team, said: "This was a well-run organised crime group motivated by money. Their sole aim was to breach the UK's immigration controls and bring people into the UK illegally.

"The sentences handed out yesterday should serve as a warning to anyone tempted to get involved in the vile trade of people smuggling. We will catch you, and put you before the courts.

"We continue to work closely with Border Force colleagues to rigorously investigate allegations of immigration-related criminality."

Of the 20 people found in the back of the lorry, 16 have been returned to Albania.

The Home Office said the cases of the remaining four are being progressed in line with the immigration rules.