26 September 2018
A Derby man has been jailed in France for heading up a criminal network that smuggled hundreds of migrants into the UK.
Rekawt Kayani, aged 36, was arrested by National Crime Agency officers at his home address in the Normanton area of Derby in May 2016, as part of a joint operation being run with the French police.
He was involved in numerous smuggling runs including one in June 2015 when 68 migrants from Afghanistan, China and Vietnam were found inside four lorries at the Harwich International Port.
Investigators also found Kayani orchestrated runs from Dieppe to Newhaven, and in January 2016 seven migrants were found crammed inside a concealed compartment in the back of a van (pictured right). Five of the migrants were from Vietnam and two were from Iraq.
Following his arrest, which was carried out using a European Arrest Warrant, Kayani was extradited to France to face trial alongside a number of others.
On Monday 24 September at a court in Lille he was sentenced to seven years in prison, a 100,000 euro fine. Upon his release from custody he will be banned from entering France for life.
Seven other members of the gang were also convicted and sentenced to between 18 months and seven years in prison.
NCA senior investigating officer Mick Pope said:
“Gangs involved in organised immigration crime treat migrants as nothing more than a commodity they can profit out of.
“Individuals found as part of this investigation had to endure horrendous conditions, crammed inside small compartments or locked in the back of lorries for hours on end.
“We are working with international partners such as the French authorities to disrupt these criminal networks and arrest and prosecute those responsible wherever possible.
“In this case we were able to use a European Arrest Warrant to make that possible.”
The operation to arrest Kayani involved Project Invigor, the UK’s Organised Immigration Crime Taskforce set up to target the criminal networks behind people smuggling impacting on the UK and the European borders.
It is led by the NCA and includes Immigration Enforcement, Crown Prosecution Service, Border Force and the Home Office working in the UK and internationally.