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Men jailed after being caught by National Crime Agency in Maidstone trying to smuggle migrants across Channel

Two men have been jailed after pleading guilty to smuggling migrants in the back of a lorry.

Tarik Slimani, 47, from north London, and Driss Hasska, 54, from Italy, met at a service station in Maidstone on August 4 last year.

Tarik Slimani
Tarik Slimani

The pair attempted to move migrants from Slimani’s hire van into the trailer of Hasska’s lorry, before heading for mainland Europe.

However, they were being followed by National Crime Agency (NCA) officers.

They searched the trailer of Hasska’s lorry and discovered eight men and a woman inside.

The men were trying to smuggle the migrants, all of North African origin, from the UK to France.

It is suspected they were being taken across the Channel to avoid border immigration controls.

Driss Hasska
Driss Hasska

Both men were arrested and taken into custody after Slimani pulled into the services later the same evening.

He claimed he was driving to Ashford to collect a coffee table when he stopped at the bus stop alongside the lorry to go to the toilet.

He added by the time he returned to his van he couldn’t remember where he was going, so began driving home before stopping at the services to go to the toilet again.

Meanwhile, in a prepared statement given to officers, Hasska claimed he had no knowledge of the migrants in his trailer.

Both men later pleaded guilty to facilitating illegal entry into an EU country.

The men were trying to smuggle the migrants from the UK to France. Picture: Google
The men were trying to smuggle the migrants from the UK to France. Picture: Google
Maidstone Crown Court
Maidstone Crown Court

They appeared at Maidstone Crown Court yesterday (April 18).

Slimani was jailed for 22 months, while Hasska received a 32-month sentence.

NCA operations manager, John Turner, said: “The outcome is a clear warning to anyone involved in facilitating illegal migration [that] you will be caught and put behind bars.

“A meticulous NCA investigation foiled this smuggling attempt and our work to disrupt and dismantle the criminal networks involved in this activity is relentless.

"Tackling organised immigration crime is a priority for the NCA.”

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