Two North East men who attempted to smuggle a Syrian woman into the UK via the Channel Tunnel have been jailed.
Border Force officers at the UK inward tourist controls at the Channel Tunnel in Coquelles, France, stopped a British-registered Vauxhall Astra on May 25, 2014.
The three occupants of the car, two men and one woman, presented three British passports.
The driver, Mohamed Rashid Hifzullah, and his passenger, Dilovan Sindi, said they had been to visit family in Germany and Belgium, and had met the woman at a petrol station en route to the Channel Tunnel.
Close inspection by officers of the woman’s passport showed she was not the rightful holder. Further questioning identified her as a Syrian national with no right to be in the UK.
The men were arrested and the investigation passed to Immigration Enforcement Criminal Investigation officers.
Hifzullah, 36, of Grafton Street, and Sindi, 31, of West Road, both Newcastle, were charged in July 2014 with assisting unlawful immigration into the UK.
They pleaded guilty at hearing at Canterbury Crown Court earlier this month. Yesterday they returned to be sentenced, and were each jailed for 12 months.
Assistant Director David Fairclough, from the Immigration Enforcement Criminal Investigations team, said: “This conviction shows how our dedicated and specialist teams are cracking down on the criminals involved in the vile trade of people smuggling.
“The sentences handed out today should serve as a warning to anyone tempted to get involved with this kind of criminality. We will catch you, and put you before the courts.
“We will continue to work closely with Border Force colleagues to rigorously investigate allegations of immigration related criminality.”
The woman involved was passed to the French Police Aux Frontières.
Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org.