June 7, 2022 4.00 pm This story is over 16 months old

Smugglers jailed for bringing 31 migrants – including children – to UK in back of vans

The Home Office investigated the case for five years

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.

Migrants of all ages were found inside vans, including very young children. | Photo: Home Office

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.

The migrants were smuggled in on six different occasions. | Photo: Home Office

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.

Paprika remnants on the floor of one of the vans, a tactic to deter sniffer dogs. | Photo: Home Office

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.”

Some vans were filled with car tyres to hide the people being smuggled in. | Photo: Home Office

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.”

A van full of boxes hiding people. | Photo: Home Office