A man has been jailed after trying to smuggle two migrants into the UK in the boot of his car.
Adam Raynor, 33, was originally arrested at the Channel Tunnel entrance in Coquelles last June, after his vehicle was searched.
He had claimed he had been visiting family before changing his story to say he had been purchasing alcohol for profit.
But on searching the vehicle, Border Force officers found two people - a Chinese national and a Vietnamese national - lying cramped inside the boot of the car. Both people were deemed to be illegal entrants and were handed over to French Police Aux Frontier.
Raynor was arrested on suspicion of assisting unlawful immigration into the UK and was summoned to appear at court on September 2, but failed to appear.
By using extensive data and intelligence, immigration officers, with help from Nottinghamshire Police, were able to pinpoint Raynor's whereabouts to an address in Nottingham where he was arrested on April 26.
Appearing at Canterbury Crown Court yesterday morning, Raynor admitted facilitating unlawful immigration. He was sentenced to two years in prison for assisting illegal entry to an EU member state, and to one month for breach of bail, to run concurrently.
Steve Blackwell, Assistant Director Financial Investigation South, said: “This was a complex and important case. Officers worked hard to locate Mr Raynor and ensure he was not able to escape justice.
“Even in the face of a global pandemic, and stringent lockdown measures, our dedicated officers have not wavered in their determination to catch and bring to justice this wanted criminal.”
Chris Philp, Minister for Immigration Compliance, also commented on the case. He said: “We are working around-the-clock with law enforcement and international partners to make sure that people smugglers face the full force of the law.
“This was a blatant attempt to try and smuggle people into the UK illegally. I hope Raynor’s imprisonment sends a clear message - anyone who engages in this kind of criminality will be caught and brought before the courts.”
Immigration Enforcement CFI's deputy director Dave Fairclough added: “People smugglers seek to exploit people in desperate situations for profit. They do not care about the safety or wellbeing of those they transport.
“It was thanks to the hard work and commitment of our fantastic immigration enforcement officers that Raynor was tracked down to an address in Nottingham and arrested.”
Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org.