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Third member of criminal network who smuggled Vietnamese migrants into the UK in lorries convicted

A man has been found guilty of playing a leading role in a network smuggling Vietnamese nationals to the UK in the backs of lorries, following a National Crime Agency investigation.

Mai Van Nguyen, age 34, himself Vietnamese and living in Wolverhampton, was part of a network bringing people into the country illegally.

He worked with Birmingham-based Hai Xuan Le, 34, to arrange at least six crossings in August and September 2020.

Le was convicted in December 2022 for his part in the network, and was later sentenced to seven-and-a-half-years in jail.

Nguyen’s role in the group was to receive the migrants once they had arrived, facilitating their movements to safe houses operated by the group in the West Midlands and collecting payments.

Some of those smuggled in are believed to have ended up working in cannabis factories.

NCA investigators were able to piece together Nguyen’s involvement in the conspiracy through phone analysis and surveillance, which showed him in regular communication with other gang members around the time the six smuggling attempts took place.

A third man, taxi driver Habib Behsodi, age 42 and from Chatham in Kent, worked with Nguyen and Le to pick up migrants from lorries in the south east of England, driving them up to the West Midlands.

Nguyen met Behsodi on a number of occasions to facilitate payments to those involved in transporting the Vietnamese nationals.

Behsodi was also convicted in December 2022 and given a two-year suspended sentence.

On Friday 17 November, following a three week trial, a jury at Birmingham Crown Court found Nguyen guilty of conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration. He was jailed for five-and-a-half years.

NCA Branch Commander Mick Pope said: “Mai Van Nguyen was part of a criminal network who treated people as nothing more than a commodity, happily risking their lives by putting them in the back of lorries for long journeys.

“His conviction is the culmination of a painstaking investigation by the NCA, focusing on a gang bringing people into the UK illegally and then arranging for them to move into the illicit economy where again they would be exploited.

“Stopping people smugglers is a priority for the NCA and we are determined to do all we can to disrupt and dismantle the criminal networks involved, wherever they operate.”

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