Man jailed for attempting to smuggle illegal immigrants into UK
An Albanian man who attempted to smuggle illegal immigrants into the UK on an inflatable boat has been jailed today (5 July).
Afrim Xhekaliu, 40, planned to bring seven men and one woman, who were all Albanian nationals, into the country on 31 January this year.
Although he denied involvement in the operation, a jury at Lewes Crown Court found him guilty of one count of assisting unlawful immigration following a trial. He was sentenced today (5 July) to six years imprisonment.
Xhekaliu, who has been living in Barnet, London, was arrested in Eastbourne after being found in an inflatable boat with the eight illegal immigrants on board. Investigators believe the vessel had set sail from France several hours earlier.
Margaret Adebayi from the CPS said: “Afrim Xhekaliu denied being involved in organising for people to be smuggled into the UK illegally and claimed he was just a passenger on board the boat.
“Evidence put forward by the CPS, including text messages from Xhekaliu’s mobile phone which showed he was involved in facilitating unlawful entry for others, saw the jury find him guilty.”
Notes to editors
- Margaret Adebayi is a Specialist Prosecutor with the CPS International Justice and Organised Crime Division
- Afrim Xhekaliu (19.4.77) was charged and found guilty of one count of assisting unlawful immigration to member state, contrary to section 25(1) of the Immigration Act 1971