Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham gang smuggled people in car boots

The men in the boot Image copyright Home Office
Image caption The Albanians found in the cars were handed to the French authorities

Six members of a people smuggling gang from Birmingham are facing jail after two groups of Albanian nationals were found by border officials in car boots.

Two adults and a child were discovered by UK Border Force officials in Coquelles, France, in March 2015, Canterbury Crown Court heard.

Nearly five months later, officers at the same UK control zone found two Albanian men hidden in a car boot.

Investigators linked both smuggling attempts to three people in Birmingham.

'Confined space'

One of these - Eduart Karaj, 39, of Icknield Port Road - pleaded guilty to conspiring to facilitate the commission of a breach of the UK immigration law by a non-EU person.

The other two - Ilir Hani, 44, of Malins Road, and Vullnet Karaj, 41, of Great Colemore Street, also in Birmingham, were convicted of the same offence after a five-day trial.

Lee Anderson, 46, of Titiana Close, who was the driver of the first vehicle stopped, and his passenger Jason Cowley, of Borrowdale Road, Anderson, were both arrested at the scene. They pleaded guilty to the same offence.

Gillian Barker, 47, of Lismore Drive, who was driving the car stopped in August 2015, also pleaded guilty to the offence.

They are all expected to be jailed on 18 September.

Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigation assistant director David Fairclough, said: "It is clear that this gang tried to organise these smuggling attempts to line their own pockets and gave little or no thought to the safety of the people, including a child, crammed into a confined space.

"This was a co-ordinated effort by the gang, but our officers worked tirelessly to sift through the evidence that uncovered their criminal enterprise."

On both occasions, the Albanians found in the car boots were handed to the French authorities.

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