An asylum seeker has been jailed over a scheme to smuggle 21 people across the Channel in dinghies for a fee of £10,000 a head.
Nzar Mohamad, 34, was exposed as a people trafficker after bragging about making up to £12,000 per passenger in a series of operations in France and the UK.
The Iraqi national was arrested in November 2019, just months after entering Britain hidden in a lorry and claiming asylum.
He had been placed under surveillance, with listening devices installed in his home in Hull recording months’ worth of phone calls to potential clients and criminal associates based in Europe.
Prosecutors said Mohamad claimed to have worked as a people smuggler when he lived in France, saying: ‘I earned quite a lot over there’.
As early as July, he was heard demanding money from a man named Waqar while discussing his sister’s travel from Baghdad, before boasting about how busy he was and how much money he was making.
He was later recorded telling an associate October to December were the peak times for smuggling and ‘if you just do those three months then
you would be loaded’, the court was told.
The gang he was part of initially trafficked people from Belgium and the Netherlands into the UK in lorries before buying a fleet of inflatable boats.
In another conversation, the 34-year-old was heard yelling at an associate because a six-metre dinghy he had bought from Holland had gone missing.
Paul Mitchell, prosecuting, added: ‘On 8 October Mohamad was recorded telling his brother in law that “I was charging ten or twelve thousand pounds per passenger for their job”.
‘Referring to a presumably unsuccessful job on October 2, he said “They were caught, all of mine were caught, I knew it before they cross”.
‘In conversations the next day he again spoke about all of his “passengers” being caught. He discussed future methods for illegal immigration, saying “nothing is wrong with the sea. I don’t know why they are afraid of it”.’
Other exchanges described by the National Crime Agency suggested Mohamad had supplied a dinghy, motor, fuel and lifejackets for 21 migrants in France and Belgium when he was arrested at his home.
He admitted to conspiracy to facilitate illegal immigration and was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday.
Judge John Thackray QC said Mohamad was ‘motivated by greed” and showed ‘no regard for the welfare of others’.
He told the court: ‘The risk of harm was enormous, even if the actual harm was limited because of your detection by the authorities, trying to navigate probably the world’s busiest shipping lane in wholly inadequate small inflatable boats.
‘In my judgment, there are fewer crimes more serious than this.’
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