Kent

Man jailed for smuggling Vietnamese migrants into Kent

Police surveillance of the boat being used Image copyright sbna
Image caption Undercover officers monitored the gang as it conducted test runs

A man who helped smuggle migrants into the UK in a dinghy has been jailed for four years and six months.

Egert Kajaci, 35, was driving a car containing four Vietnamese men when he was stopped by police on 3 August 2018.

He was part of a gang bringing migrants ashore in Walmer, Kent, that was being watched by police and Border Force.

Seven members of the "sophisticated" smuggling network have now been sentenced to a total of more than 30 years.

Kajaci, of Turner Driver, Oxford, pleaded guilty at St Albans Crown Court to conspiracy to facilitate the illegal entry of foreign nationals into the UK.

Image copyright Sbna
Image caption Members of the gang bought the dinghy on 26 June 2018

Sentencing his co-conspirators in February, Judge Robert Winstanley said police had disrupted a "sophisticated system and mechanism that could bring countless illegal immigrants to the United Kingdom".

The migrants had been expected to work for free for two years to repay the smugglers, the court heard.

Phuong Dan Tran, one of the men in the boat, told the court he fled religious persecution in Vietnam and travelled overland to China. He then flew to Russia, having been promised work and better living conditions, before being smuggled into France and then England.

Judge Winstanley said: "This conspiracy stretches from the Far East to some oppressive workplace in the United Kingdom."

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