The alleged ringleader of a gang found guilty of smuggling migrants into the UK is still wanted by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
It comes as a key member of the organised crime group Marinel Danut Palage has been jailed for smuggling migrants into the UK.
The 31-year-old Romanian national, who lives in Spain, made use of back of his refrigerated truck, where he was carrying a legitimate load of spinach.
He has been sentenced to nine years at Bournemouth Crown Court on Thursday (April 13).
Palage would meet the migrants in northern France before taking them in the back of his lorry on a ferry from Caen to Portsmouth.
He would then drive them to an industrial estate at Runcton near Chichester, West Sussex, where they would be met by drivers to take them to the Midlands and north of England.
Bournemouth Crown Court heard that the operation was carried out at least three times bringing about 10 to 12 people illegally into the UK.
During a search of Palage's cab, plastic bags containing £34,500 in cash, with further bundles of euros and sterling to the value of about £7,000, were discovered hidden behind a tachograph panel.
Sentencing Palage, Judge William Mousley KC told him: “You performed the essential function of driving the immigrants across the border in your lorry.
“You had a clear organisational role in managing aspects of the enterprise.
“You expected, and received, large sums of money for your involvement.”
The judge added that Palage had shown no remorse as he had gone on to carry out similar offences in Germany and had to be extradited to stand trial in the UK.
He ordered that Palage’s vehicle and the money found to be seized.
Father-of-three Pshtewan Ghafour, 37, Camsell Court, Middlesbrough, was jailed for five years for his role in the organisation which included ensuring the group members were paid.
Both defendants were found guilty of conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration following a four-week trial.
NCA branch commander Richard Harrison said: “This people smuggling group were content to put vulnerable migrants, including children, in the back of refrigerated lorries for hours on end during dangerous Channel crossings” .
“It is clear from the evidence we found that their sole reason was for profit, without any regard to the migrants’ safety.”
A NCA spokesman said that Palage and Ghafour were arrested following a surveillance operation on March 11 2019 and Palage’s lorry was found to be carrying at least three people on that occasion.
The alleged ringleader of the group Goran Jalal, 37, of Brandfort Street, Lidget Green, Bradford, absconded following his arrest.
Kamaran Kader, 44, of Basil Street, Canterbury, Bradford; Mariwan Mustafa, 33, of Ovenden Way, Halifax; and Manchester duo Jamal Saied, 38, of Brightstone Walk, and Hemin Salih, 37, of Bryson Walk, who has also absconded, will be sentenced separately for their part in the network.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Salih and Jalal should contact the NCA on 0370 4967622 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.