Four-year sentence handed to Bulgarian people smuggler

A Bulgarian lorry driver made a secret compartment beneath this truck to smuggle migrants into the UK

TMP – 13/11/2017

A Bulgarian driver who tried to smuggle five migrants into the UK has been jailed for four years.

French border force staff discovered four relatives – a mother and her three children aged six, three and two – and another man in a specially modified compartment of the driver’s lorry. Sealed shut from the outside, officers at the Coquelles Eurotunnel terminal in France needed to prise open the compartment to free the stowaways.

The 27-year-old Bulgarian lorry driver had flown from Bulgaria to Luton in the UK days before being apprehended and personally rented the lorry before driving it to France.

It was on the return journey in September that customs officers noticed the lorry had been altered and discovered the migrants crammed into the tiny space.

Prosecutor Abigail Husbands told the court that the mother and children were from Iraq and that the man – who was not known to the woman – was from Afghanistan.

The judge presiding over the case told the lorry driver: “This is an extremely serious crime. It is the commercial exploitation of extremely vulnerable people.”

He said people like the lorry driver had “fed off the vulnerable for his own financial gain”, and that the lorry driver had endangered the lives of the five people being smuggled.

With tighter border security throughout Europe, people smugglers are opting for more dangerous tactics to evade being caught. Many migrants are regularly maimed or killed when they are hidden underneath train carriages or inside unventilated lorries.