Two men, one from Lincoln, have been jailed for a combined 14 years after smuggling 31 illegal migrants, including seven children and a pregnant woman, into the UK.
Akan Brayan from Nottingham and Dylan Shwani from Lincoln, both 37, were sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court following a five-year investigation by the Home Office’s Criminal and Financial Investigations (CFI) unit.
The pair were found guilty of recruiting drivers to hide migrants in hired vans containing various goods, such as car tyres and boxes, before smuggling people into the UK.
The majority of the migrants were men, but children as young as one and a pregnant woman were also found in the vans, with people crammed among second-hand furniture and other household goods.
Between 2016 and 2018, Brayan and Shwani paid six drivers from the Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire areas to bring 31 Iraqi migrants into the country on six separate occasions.
CFI teams found boxes placed deliberately to hide people, and paprika on the floor of one of the vans to confuse sniffer dogs.
Both men were jailed for seven years each, totalling 14 years behind bars collectively.
Minister for Justice and Tackling Illegal Migration, Tom Pursglove MP said: “These brazen attempts to smuggle illegal migrants, including very young children, into the UK in tiny, air-tight spaces with room to barely move, is despicable.
“Our expertly trained officers continue to work round the clock to prevent this illegal activity, which puts lives in extreme danger.
“The Nationality and Borders Act will make it easier to prosecute people smugglers and, by making it a criminal offence to arrive in the UK illegally, we can truly break the business models of these callous criminals.”
Ben Thomas, Deputy Director for Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigations, said: “My team work tirelessly to bring to justice anyone attempting to smuggle people unlawfully into the country.
“These two evil men endangered the lives of people, including children, to line their pockets without a care in the world for their safety. I hope these sentencings sends a powerful message that breaking the law and putting individuals’ lives at risk will not go unpunished.”