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People smuggling ringleader Alket Dauti extradited to Belgium to serve 10-year jail sentence

The ringleader of an organised criminal network involved in hundreds of attempts to smuggle migrants into the UK has been extradited to Belgium to serve a 10-year jail sentence.

Alket Dauti was arrested by officers from the National Crime Agency at his home address in Penge, south-east London last June.

It was part of a joint UK-Belgian investigation into a crime group thought to be using corrupt truck drivers to smuggle men, women and children into the UK, sometimes using refrigerated lorries.

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Alket Dauti was detained at his home in south-east London. Image: NCA
Alket Dauti was detained at his home in south-east London. Image: NCA

The trucks would pick up migrants in Belgium and transport them to the UK via the Channel ports, most of which are in Kent.

Prosecutors in Belgium claimed the network was likely to have been involved in hundreds of attempts to reach the UK.

Some of those attempts were thwarted when the NCA passed intelligence to Border Force, who then intercepted the migrants on arrival in the UK.

Dauti, 31, was convicted in his absence by a court in West Flanders in December.

He was handed a 10-year sentence and 720,000 Euro fine.

WATCH: Alket Dauti's arrest last year

Two men who prosecutors say were "lieutenants" of Dauti, an Albanian, were sentenced to eight years each. They await extradition.

NCA regional head of investigations Andrea Wilson said: "Through our close working with the Belgian Federal Police and prosecutors we have taken out a significant organised crime group involved in bringing migrants to the UK illegally.

"Dauti was the head of that group. He treated desperate migrants as a commodity he could make money from, and was perfectly happy to risk their lives on incredibly dangerous journeys in the back of lorries.

"He has been convicted in a Belgian court and we have returned him there to serve his sentence."

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