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20 September 2018, 18:59 | Updated: 20 September 2018, 19:02
Two men have been jailed for nine years each yesterday (19th September) for their role in smuggling 11 Albanians into the UK in the back of a lorry.
Miklovan Bazegurore and Fation Shuti were the organisers behind a smuggling attempt uncovered on 14 June 2016, when the National Crime Agency (NCA) officers stopped a lorry on Newport Road near Milton Keynes.
Inside the lorry, hidden amongst a load of clothing, 11 Albanian nationals (nine adults and two minors) were discovered. Initial examination indicated that the official door seals had been tampered with.
Astrit Shehu (pictured), a passenger in the lorry, and Bagram Hasa, who was waiting nearby to pick up some of the Albanians in his car were arrested on suspicion of assisting illegal immigration and the case was passed to Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigations (CFI).
The investigation which followed uncovered evidence that Bazegurore and Shuti were the organisers and they were arrested separately on 20 June 2016 and 5 December 2017 respectively. Both men had been under observation by the NCA for a number of months before the lorry concealment was discovered.
The pair had travelled via Amsterdam to Belgium on 13 June 2016 and back into the UK the following day. It was during this trip that they are believed to have arranged for the Albanians to be loaded into the trailer.
Shehu, 33, from London and Hasa, 56 from Enfield, who are both British nationals, were found guilty of conspiracy to facilitate illegal immigration at Aylesbury Crown Court on 10 August.
Shuti, 33, from Dagenham, also British and Bazegurore, 33, of Barking who is a Kosovan national, both admitted the same offence at an earlier hearing in March.
All four men were today sentenced at Aylesbury Crown Court. In addition to the sentences handed to Bazegurore and Shuti, Shehu received three years in jail and Hasa received 18 months.
Caroline Feldman from CFI said:
“Bazegurore and Shuti were the driving forces behind the criminal activity, coordinating the movements of the others through phone calls and texts.
The sentences handed down today are an excellent result and demonstrate the effectiveness of the close cooperation between Immigration Enforcement and the NCA.
It is a clear warning to other people that might be tempted to break the law in a similar fashion.”
The Albanian adults were detained and subsequently removed from the UK.
NCA Branch Commander Martin Huxley said:
“These men built a business around treating humans as a commodity, putting others’ lives at risk for their own financial gain.
Tackling the threat of organised immigration crime is a priority for the NCA and we work closely with partners, including Immigration Enforcement, to target the individuals seeking to undermine the security of the UK border and bring them to justice.”