Two UK residents have been jailed by a French court after they helped smuggle at least 250 migrants into the UK, mainly in the back of lorries.
Hojjat Nickhoo, 38, and Ayoob Khaleghi, 33, both arrested in London, appeared alongside nineteen other men who were charging adults £10,000 and children £9,000 to get into the UK.
Two years ago Nickhoo, from Enfield, was detained as he tried to leave the country via Heathrow Airport, while Khaleghi was arrested in a raid on Nickhoo’s address.
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The pair were extradited to France last year, before appearing before a court in Lille last Wednesday (October 13).
Investigations estimate the smuggling ring made over four million pounds in just under a year.
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Migrants were transferred to sites in the North of France, Belgium and the Netherlands, where they were then transported across the Channel to the UK.
The National Crime Agency identified Nickhoo as one of the ringleaders in the group, and he received the longest sentence of all the men involved – seven years.
Meanwhile Khaleghi received a sentence of two and a half years, as sentences totalling 81 and a half years in prison were handed out by the French court.
NCA Deputy Director Andrea Wilson, said: “The NCA worked closely with French authorities to track these men down and ensure they went before the court in France.
“Tragically, we have seen that smuggling people in the back of vehicles and other methods can have lethal consequences.
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“We continue our work to tackle the people smugglers who seek to exploit UK borders and treat migrants as a commodity to be profited from, with no regard for their safety.”
Joanne Jakymec, Chief Crown Prosecutor and Head of the CPS International Justice and Organised Crime Division, said: “The Crown Prosecution Service worked closely with the NCA to support this effective prosecution in France, by securing the extradition of the two UK-based defendants and the transfer of evidence to France.”
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