BUSTED: Third member of prolific people smuggling group convicted 

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Jalal Tarakhail, 24, was today found guilty of conspiracy to facilitate illegal immigration into the UK. Photo credit: NCA

A third individual has been convicted for his part in an organised crime group linked to the smuggling of migrants into the UK by lorry.  

Jalal Tarakhail, 24, from Ilford, was arrested as part of a long running investigation into an organised crime group who used GPS trackers to trace vehicles they had hidden people inside.

Today, Monday 26 February, he was found guilty of conspiracy to facilitate illegal immigration into the UK, joining co-conspirators Najib Khan, 39, from Ilford, and Waqas Ikram, 41, from Dagenham.

Ikram was detained during an NCA operation at South Mimms services on 30 March 2021, where he was caught red-handed attempting to break into an HGV to put four migrants inside, unbeknownst to the driver.

At the time of his arrest, Ikram was working for a people smuggling organised crime group (OCG) headed by Md Mokter Hossain, who was later jailed for more than 10 years as part of the NCA’s Operation Symbolry.

However, an iPhone belonging to Ikram, seized following his arrest, contained numerous conversations with Khan and Tarakhail outlining their involvement in a separate criminal network, charging migrants up to £7,000 a head to bring them to the UK.

There was evidence that showed they had been involved in multiple successful and unsuccessful crossings via lorry in 2019. Ikram and Khan had then gone on to purchase a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) for the purpose of smuggling migrants to the UK over the Channel.

Drivers and a transport manager involved in two early unsuccessful attempts – involving a total of 32 migrants – were jailed in the Netherlands and France.

The NCA were able to prove that the crime group had been involved in both attempts, and accessed further conversations between Ikram and Khan showing they were using GPS trackers to follow lorries that had been broken into without the drivers’ knowledge.

Tarakhail’s role was wide-ranging. Messages revealed that he was involved in the construction of a concealment that hid 16 migrants within the rear of a truck, all of whom were safeguarded after being found at the Hook of Holland port. He was also involved in organising a concealment in a lorry that was later found to have 16 migrants inside, 11 of whom were children, en route to Newhaven.

Ikram was arrested by the NCA for his role in Operation Symbolry in 2021, charged with people smuggling offences and released on bail by the court.

Both he and Khan were detained in connection with further offences by the NCA in July 2022 and charged with three counts of conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration.

Ikram pleaded guilty to the charge, but Khan went to trial and was subsequently found guilty.

Tarakhail was arrested in August 2023 at London Gatwick, travelling back to the UK from Dubai. Following a 4-week trial, concluding today, he was convicted of one count of conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration.

NCA lead investigating officer Robert Macleod said:

“These individuals treated humans as a commodity and had no regard for the safety or wellbeing of those they were transporting.

“Originally focussed on HGVs, Ikram and Khan switched their attention to small boats – showing clear intentions to continue their illegal work, maximise their profits and risk the lives of many more people.

“The dangers these types of organised crime groups pose is clear, which is why they are a focus for the NCA.

“We work tirelessly with partners in the UK and overseas to disrupt and dismantle the networks involved in people smuggling, pursuing every avenue available to save lives, and are glad that today’s result brought about justice in this case.”

Source: NCA

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