Manchester

Lithuanian man paid EU nationals for passports for Albanian lookalikes

Irmantas Zvybas Image copyright National Crime Agency
Image caption Zvybas was arrested seven years after a European Arrest Warrant was issued

A Lithuanian man who paid people to use their passports to try and secure UK entry for Albanian nationals has been jailed after eight years on the run.

Irmantas Zvybas, 30, paid up to £800 each for EU passports, before giving them to people who looked liked the holder, the National Crime Agency said.

Zvybas, who had lived in Manchester before fleeing, then went with them to the UK, though they were denied entry.

He was jailed for 10 months at Manchester Crown Court.

Zvybas' offences were uncovered in 2011 and he fled the UK in the following year, when a a warrant was issued for his arrest.

The agency said in early 2011, Zvybas paid to "take possession" of legitimate EU passports held by his acquaintances.

He then travelled to Italy and France to give the documents to a number of Albanians who wanted to enter the UK and "bore physical similarities" to the legal holders.

He then accompanied them to the UK, but "none of his customers were granted entry", the spokesman said.

In August 2011, one of the passport holders paid by Zvybas was arrested and was later jailed for two years.

Zvybas was then found to have left the UK and a European Arrest Warrant was issued in January 2012.

He was arrested at Latvia's Riga Airport on 13 October 2019, extradited to the UK and later admitted two counts of assisting unlawful immigration.

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