Albanian man jailed for smuggling 12 migrants in North Sea crossing
A people smuggler has been jailed after smuggling migrants, including a child, towards the UK.
A people smuggler has been jailed for 2 years and 8 months after he spent 2 days at sea steering a yacht full of Albanian migrants, including a child, towards the UK.
Eduard Mucaj piloted a dangerously overcrowded and badly equipped yacht across the North Sea from the Netherlands, despite having no safety equipment or navigational devices.
The yacht was carrying more than 3 times its capacity and was fitted with a faulty engine.
Mucaj, 50, set sail from Den Oever in the Netherlands in the early hours of 9 August last year.
He was tracked by Dutch authorities who monitored the yacht’s movement as it sailed erratically towards Lowestoft, Suffolk.
The Dutch coastguard alerted the Home Office when Mucaj failed to respond to their attempts to make contact with the vessel. The yacht was intercepted 2 days later by a Border Force patrol vessel as it entered UK territorial waters.
Border Force officers found a dozen migrants, including an 8 year old child, crammed below deck.
None of those on board had life jackets or harnesses, apart from Mucaj, who was seen at the helm wearing a life jacket, waterproofs and boots.
Two of the migrants hidden in the boat had previously been handed deportation orders and were banned from entering the UK. They have since been removed from the country.
Mucaj was promptly arrested for facilitating illegal entry to the UK and attempting to arrive in the UK himself without valid entry clearance. He later pleaded guilty to both charges and was yesterday sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court.
Minister for Illegal Migration, Michael Tomlinson yesterday said:
Evil people smugglers will go to any length to profit from people seeking to reach our shores illegally. This shocking case saw lives recklessly endangered, with people crammed on board a death-trap with no regard for their safety or the law.
I’d like to thank our officers and Dutch counterparts for their co-operation and hard work that has taken place to swiftly put this criminal behind bars.
We are working relentlessly to stop the boats and ensure those responsible for dangerous smuggling attempts not only face the full weight of the law, but have their entire business model dismantled.
The Home Office’s Criminal and Financial Investigation team worked closely with their Dutch counterparts to gather evidence in the aftermath of the smuggling attempt.
Authorities in the Netherlands were able to provide evidence that linked Mucaj to the purchase of the yacht.
Chris Foster, Deputy Director of Criminal and Financial Investigations at the Home Office, yesterday said:
People smugglers are going to increasingly extreme lengths to bring people into the UK illegally.
Today’s sentence reflects the severity of this brazen smuggling attempt that spanned over 120 nautical miles of open seas.
I want to thank my teams who work tirelessly to investigate those responsible for these crimes and ensure they are brought to justice.
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