Smugglers caught red-handed as they attempted to break into a HGV to put migrants inside at a service station are found guilty of carrying out illegal crossings in which they charged £7,000 per person
- Waqas Ikram was arrested in March 2021, revealing a wider smuggling network
Two men have been found guilty of smuggling migrants into the UK in lorries following an investigation by the National Crime Agency in 2021.
Najib Khan, 38 from Ilford, was found guilty of three charges of conspiring to facilitate a breach of immigration law.
His co-conspirator, Waqas Ikram, 40 from Dagenham, pleaded guilty to three charges of conspiring to facilitate a breach of immigration law.
The latter was caught in March 2021 attempting to break into a HGV to be loaded with migrants at South Mimms service station, Hertfordshire.
The seizure of Ikram’s phone revealed conversations with Khan and a wider smuggling network, charging migrants – including minors – up to £7,000 to be brought to the UK illegally.
They will be sentenced on October 30.
Najib Khan was found guilty of three charges of conspiring to facilitate a breach of immigration law
Waqas Ikram from Dagenham pleaded guilty to three charges of conspiring to facilitate a breach of immigration law
After Ikram’s arrest in 2021, police were also able to catch the smuggling ring’s leader, Md Mokter Hossain.
Hossain was jailed for ten years for transporting migrants across the Channel.
Ikram’s phone conversations revealed three planned smuggling attempts, two of which were prevented by border agents.
The intercepted operations revealed minors smuggled in horrifying conditions, likely struggling to breathe in the intense heat and confinement.
The National Crime Agency’s branch commander Andy Noyes said: ‘Ikram and Khan had no regard for the safety and security of those they were transporting.
‘They were only interested in making money from them.
‘In at least one case it was only the fact that the migrants were discovered by border agents that prevented them being left in what could have been an incredibly dangerous, and potential fatal, situation.
‘They then moved their attentions to obtaining boats, but fortunately we were able to stop them before their plans progressed.
‘Tackling people smuggling is a priority for the NCA, and we are determined to do all we can to disrupt and dismantle the organised crime groups involved.’
A lorry used to transport smuggled migrants. Border agents were able to intercept two of three planned crossings
View shows the interior of a trailed used to smuggle migrants, subject to terrible conditions
Khan and Ikram were revealed to have bought a rigid hull inflatable boat to transport migrants across the Channel.
Ikram attended a course to learn how to pilot a powerboat in June 2020.
In July, the pair were encountered by Border Force off the coast of Suffolk in their RHIB.
They told officers they were scouting for scuba diving sites, and returned to Walton-on-the-Naze.
Ikram was ultimately arrested by the NCA in 2021, and both he and Khan were charged with three counts of conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration.
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