Man who hid immigrants inside sofas and smuggled them into the UK is jailed at Preston Crown Court
A man has been jailed for hiding illegal immigrants inside sofas and smuggling them into the UK in the back of hired vans.
Arman Yusuf Rahmani was sentenced to 2 years and 7 months at Preston Crown Court after pleading guilty to breaking UK immigration law.
The 21-year-old, from Iran, had previously been granted asylum in the UK after entering the country in the back of a lorry, but was caught attempting to smuggle other illegal immigrants into Britain from France and Belgium.
Upon arrival at the UK border in France, UK Border Force officers searched the vans and discovered the illegal migrants hiding inside. They all claimed to be Iraqi teenagers under 18 years of age.
Preston Crown Court heard that from December 2018 to April 2019, Rahmani hired six different ‘man with van’ drivers to drive from the UK to France or Belgium to collect and transport second-hand furniture bound for Britain.
But unknown to the hired drivers, illegal immigrants had paid to be smuggled into the UK and were hidden in the bases of sofas before being loaded into the back of the vans.
The court heard how the drivers were instructed not to help with loading the vehicles and were distracted while the loading took place.
Within two years of entering the UK, Rahmani had established a criminal network to facilitate the illegal entry of foreign nationals into the UK.
Minister for Immigration Compliance & Justice, Chris Philip, said: "Rahmani showed a blatant disregard for the laws of the UK, a country which provided him with safety and a place to live for which he has rightly paid the price.
"This case shows the lengths criminals will go to profit from our broken asylum system by putting people’s lives at risk.
"We are aiming to step up prosecution of those smuggling people into the country which is why this government is bringing legislation through our New Plan for Immigration, breaking the business model of these heinous people smuggling networks and save lives."
Video footage and photographs taken of the hiding spots show that any pleas for help from those locked in the back of the van were unlikely to have been heard.
Prosecutors said Rahmani's methods show that he had no regard for the welfare of those he was paid to hide and smuggle into the country.
Katie Brown, CFI Investigator said: "Today’s sentence is the result of an excellent investigation which brought to an end Rahmani’s pattern of criminality.
"People smugglers are motivated by money alone and show no regard for the safety of those they exploit.
"This case is a message that we never stop looking for those involved in immigration crime.”
Rahmani will see out his 2-year and 7-month sentence before being deported as a Foreign National Offender (FNO).
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