27 October 2017
Three men have been jailed after an undercover National Crime Agency investigation into people smuggling.
The trio plotted to move up to 20 Albanian migrants a month from Europe to the UK.
But their conspiracy was cracked by the NCA after an undercover operation against the organised crime group (OCG).
The undercover infiltration of the OCG meant that instead of passing the migrants to someone who was going to transport them to the UK, they delivered six illegal migrants into the arms of waiting Belgian law enforcement officers.
In March this year Scott Downie, 31, of Seedley Park Road and Anthony Corkovic, 28, of Murray Street, both Salford, began a plan to smuggle migrants from Europe to the UK, offering £2,000 a head for transportation.
They settled on a scheme to bring illegal Albanian migrants to the UK from Oostkamp in Belgium.
The OCG was led by Jetlind Gjyriqi, 31, of Approach Road, Merton, London, who claimed that he could move up to 20 illegal migrants per month, many of whom had previously been removed from the UK and were trying to get back in.
Gjyriqi spoke about moving women and children in the future and stressed he would only transport Albanians.
The trio’s first handover was arranged to take place in a layby in Oostkamp in the Belgian province of West Flanders.
On 2 August two cars pulled up in the layby at the appointed time and six men under the control of two Albanians – jumped into the undercover vehicle.
The two drove off but were arrested by Belgian police and have since been prosecuted in Belgium.
The six migrants were removed from the van and deported.
Downie, Corkovic and Gjyriqi were arrested in co-ordinated NCA strikes in the UK.
The trio answered no-comment to interviewers’ questions but admitted people smuggling when they appeared at Manchester Crown Court.
Today, Downie and Corkovic were each jailed for seven years and Gjyriqi was jailed for five years two months.
NCA senior investigating officer Jez Hope said: “We are doing everything possible to prevent people smuggling which is a priority threat for the National Crime Agency.
“We have knocked a hole in this organised crime group’s abilities.
“Organised immigration crime cuts across borders so it’s vital that international law enforcement shares intelligence and works together.”