Two men jailed for immigration offences
Two men have been jailed for immigration offences following an investigation by the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU)
Feim Vata, 32-years-old, and Xhemal Baco, 24-years-old, both of The Broadway, Farnham Common, Slough both pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration to a member state on Monday (19/11) .
Today (21/11) they were each sentenced to 8 years imprisonment at Canterbury Crown Court.
Their conviction follows months of investigation led by the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) who were assisted by Kent Police, the National Crime Agency, UK Border Force, French Police, French Navy, National Maritime Information Centre, Immigration Enforcement and Thames Valley Police which resulted in the arrests of the men on 20 October in a pre-planned operation.
The SEROCU investigation had uncovered that the men were transporting illegal migrants from France in small inflatable boats, travelling across the English Channel at night on to the beaches close to Deal, Kent. It is suspected that Baco and Vata completed the trip at least three time and whenever they had cause to abandon the boat, they would simply purchase a new one with cash and using false names.
On the 20 October 2018, Baco picked up six Albanian illegal migrants in France, with Baco driving the small inflatable boat across the English Channel. Upon arrival to the shore close to Deal, Kent, Baco hid the boat in some bushes and he and the illegal migrants entered a vehicle driven by Vata, before they were arrested by officers.
“This was a large scale operation, involving a number of agencies both here in the UK and aboard.
“We are pleased with today’s sentence and the guilty pleas by the men, which shows the quality of evidence that was put forward could not be refuted. Whilst I am pleased that these men are now behind bars, it is amazing that no one died during the extremely risky process.
“When the men and the illegal migrants were arrested, we found them cold and wet, they had travelled in an overloaded inflatable boat with no life vests or navigation equipment and across a busy shipping lane in total darkness.
“Experts told us that attempting to cross the channel in a boat the size Baco and Vata did, is like trying to cross the M25 at its busiest time on foot. They also told us that the boat was extremely unsuitable and overloaded. The boat Baco and Vata used is not designed to cross the channel, they used empty water bottles for bailing the water out which was found with the boat. It was reckless to even attempt such a crossing and everyone is extremely lucky to have survived.”Detective Inspector Clair Trueman, SEROCU