Trafficking gang jailed after hiring undercover officer

Three men have begun long prison sentences after they hired an undercover National Crime Agency (NCA) officer to help smuggle migrants into the UK.

Oct 30, 2017

Three men have begun long prison sentences after they hired an undercover National Crime Agency (NCA) officer to help smuggle migrants into the UK. The men were part of an organised crime group (OCG) that planned to transport up to 20 Albanian illegal immigrants from Europe every month. However, their criminal activity came to an end when they unknowingly hired an undercover NCA officer as their driver. In March, 31-year-old Scott Downie and Anthony Corkovic, 28, from Salford, began a plot to smuggle the migrants into the UK, charging £2,000 per person for transportation. They eventually settled on a scheme to bring illegal Albanian migrants to the UK from Oostkamp in Belgium. The OCG was led by Jetlind Gjyriqi, 31, from London, who claimed he could transport up to 20 illegal migrants per month, many of whom had previously been deported from the UK. Their first handover was arranged to take place in a layby in Oostkamp on August 2. However, as two vehicles pulled up in the layby at the agreed time and six men under the control of two Albanians got out, they transferred to a van being driven by the undercover officer. The two Albanians drove off but were arrested by Belgian authorities and have since been prosecuted. The six migrants were deported. Gjyriqi, Downie and Corkovic were arrested shortly after in co-ordinated NCA strikes across the UK. Despite answering ‘no comment’ to interviewers’ questions, the three men admitted people smuggling when they appeared at Manchester Crown Court. On Saturday (October 27), Corkovic and Downie were sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment while Gjyriqi was handed five years. NCA senior investigating officer Jez Hope said: “We are doing everything possible to prevent people smuggling which is a priority threat for the NCA. “We have knocked a hole in this organised crime group’s abilities. “Organised immigration crime cuts across borders so it’s vital that international law enforcement shares intelligence and works together.”

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