UK sentences members of Kurdish-led smuggling network to jail

Thirteen members of a criminal network that smuggled people from Iraq and the Kurdistan region into the United Kingdom have been convicted, British police authorities announced.

The network spanned the UK, Europe, and Asia, according to Britain’s South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU). Using their contacts, the gang moved irregular migrants to a holding point, often in France, before attempting to smuggle them into the UK.

According to SEROCU, the migrants would be taken from France to Belgium by taxi, where they were expected to travel in the wind deflector or underneath the trailer of UK-bound lorries.

“This gang took advantage of their links to the Middle East to exploit vulnerable people for financial gain, with no concern about putting their lives in danger,” SEROCU said. 

They added: “They targeted the Kurdish community and looked to make as much profit out of every individual they could exploit. Their only concern was their profit margins.” The smugglers charged around GBP 8,000 – 10,000 (IQD 11.5 million – 14.42 million) per person for the journey. 

The network’s ringleaders were Alan Hoger (33) and Goran Ahmed (34). They were both Kurdish but lived in East Sussex, UK. Hoger was jailed for 10 years and Ahmed was jailed for eight years. 

Two lorry drivers who assisted in the operations were jailed for five and four years respectively. 

British police said: “This case should serve as a clear warning to those involved in trafficking people into the UK. Be in no doubt, we have an extensive investigative network and a range of tactics to combat such criminal activity. We will seek them out and bring them before the courts.”

Although there is no official data available, it is estimated that around 200,000 Kurds currently live in the UK. Many of them faced exploitation at the hands of smugglers on their irregular journey.

TMP – 21/08/2019