Six jailed for smuggling migrants into UK through Portsmouth in refrigerated lorry

The six people smugglers have been jailed for a combined total of 26 years. Credit: National Crime Agency

Six people smugglers have been jailed for a combined total of 26 years after transporting migrants into the UK in the back of a refrigerated lorry through Portsmouth port.But the alleged ringleader of the group remains at large, along with another man.37-year-old Goran Jalal from Bradford is suspected of organising crossings, while Hemin Ali Salih, aged 37 and from Manchester, has been convicted of attempting to use Jalal’s criminal network to smuggle a relative to Britain.

Both are wanted by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Salih absconded before the start of the trial.

He was convicted of facilitating illegal immigration and sentenced in his absence to two years in jail. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Jalal was initially arrested but later absconded from bail.

Goran Jalal, aged 37 and from Bradford, absconded from bail Credit: National Crime Agency

31 year-old Romanian lorry driver Marinel Danut Palage, was key to the plot.

He carried out migrant runs for the network in his truck, using crossings from Normandy into Portsmouth.44-year-old Kamaran Kader from Bradford and 37-year-old Pshtewan Ghafour from Middlesbrough acted alongside Jalal and worked with Palage to organise crossings.The gang were arrested in an NCA operation in March 2019, when surveillance officers followed them to a handover meeting on an industrial estate in Runcton, West Sussex.At least three migrants travelled in Palage’s lorry on a ferry from Caen in France, before being collected by cars driven by other gang members.Kader and Jalal were in one of the cars. Both men were arrested by NCA officers at a service station on the A3 as they drove away from the area. They had earlier handed over two migrants to other gang members.

Hemin Ali Salih absconded before the start of the trial and was convicted and sentenced in his absence.

Phone evidence showed that Ghafour had also travelled down to Portsmouth on the same night, while both Ghafour and Kader’s fingerprints were found on bags and envelopes of cash that NCA officers found in Palage’s lorry.Following a four week trial at Bournemouth Crown Court, Palage and Ghafour were found guilty of conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration on Tuesday 14 March. They were sentenced to nine and five years in prison respectively on 13 April.As part of the same trial Jamal Walid Saied, 38, Mariwan Tofiq Mustafa, 33, and Salih were all found guilty of facilitating illegal immigration. They were today handed sentences of three years, two-and-a half-years, and two years respectively.Kader had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing and was sentenced to four-and-a-half years on 20 April at the same court.

The migrants were smuggled into the UK in a refrigerated lorry Credit: National Crime Agency

NCA Branch Commander Richard Harrison said: “People smugglers risk lives, which is why targeting them is a priority for the NCA and we are doing all we can to disrupt and dismantle the criminal networks involved.“The men convicted and sentenced put profit ahead of people."

They were happy to put vulnerable migrants into the backs of lorries for long Channel sea crossings, and I’m delighted they are now behind bars.“But Goran Jalal and Hemin Ali Salih both remain at large. Warrants have been issued for their arrests, and we will not rest until they are in custody.”Anyone with information on the whereabouts of either Jalal or Salih should contact the NCA on 0370 4967622 or, alternatively, the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.