People smuggler jailed for cramming 7 migrants in van compartment

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Photo credit: Home Office / UK Gov

A people smuggler has been jailed for cramming seven migrants into a one-person sleeping compartment and brazenly trying to enter the UK. 

Shocking videos show the tiny, inhumane space where six Vietnamese and one Syrian were squeezed inside the Citroen van. 

At Chelmsford Crown Court today, Romanian Valeriu Iordatii was sentenced to 3 years for facilitation and illegal entry into the UK. 

On 16 December 2023 Iordatii attempted to enter the UK using the car ferry from the Hook of Holland to Essex. Border Force officers at the car hall at Harwich International Port searched the van driven by Iordatii and discovered the horrendously overcrowded sleeping compartment. Iordatii claimed he had no idea the compartment was crammed full of people, despite its location being directly above his head. 

The van Valeriu Iordatii used to transport seven migrants into the UK CREDIT: Home Office / UK Gov

Minister for Illegal Migration, Michael Tomlinson said:  

People smugglers don’t care if their passengers live or die, as long as they pay.  

Our message is clear – if you put lives at risk, you will face the full weight of the law and we will ensure you leave the UK as soon as possible.

The 24-year-old claimed that a chance encounter with an old friend under the Eiffel Tower led to arrangements for him to work in the UK delivering furniture in the van. Iordatii collected the vehicle from a petrol station before heading for the port. 

Two of the migrants claimed asylum upon entry, the remaining five did not claim asylum, were deemed illegal entrants, and were immediately returned to the Netherlands. Iordatii will now be treated as a foreign national offender and could be removed from the UK after referral to the Home Office.  

Chris Foster, Deputy Director of Criminal and Financial Investigations at the Home Office said:   

This shocking case shows that people smugglers are going to increasingly extreme lengths to make their money.  

If anything had happened on that ferry, 7 people would have been unaccounted for and trapped. 

The sentence shows that those who abuse our borders and our laws will be caught and will face justice and then, where possible, be removed from the country.

This follows similar recent cases. At Ipswich Crown Court earlier this month, a man was jailed for 2 years and 8 months after attempting to smuggle people in a dangerously overcrowded yacht, and at the end of January a man was jailed for 2-and-a-half years at Canterbury Crown Court for cramming a Vietnamese woman behind a car dashboard.

Source: Home Office and Michael Tomlinson KC MP

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