A north London barber who used his Colindale shop as a front for a people smuggling plot has been convicted.
Gul Wali Jabarkhel, 33, from Cricklewood, offered lorry drivers thousands of pounds to illegally bring people into the UK across the Channel.
He was one of four Londoners convicted on Monday for their roles in the criminal enterprise following a six week trial at Kingston Crown Court.
The court heard how Jabarkhel offered a driver £2,500 for each person smuggled in from France or Belgium in September 2020.
He wanted the driver to make regular runs up to three times a month, but he abandoned an initial run scheduled for November 9, 2020.
Instead, along with Baz Mohammed Jabarkhil, 47, from Mill Hill, he left the UK and flew to Kabul.
Detectives at the National Crime Agency worked to stop them returning, in a bid to stop their people smuggling plans.
However, the pair hatched a plan to re-enter the UK illegally using the lorry drivers they had tried to recruit, which they were to pay £7,500 each for.
As they were both out of the country, they turned to Rehan Murudkar, 19, of Edgware and Mohammad Rafique, 28, of Dollis Hill for help.
They arranged a cash handover at the London Gateway Services on the M1 to facilitate the pair’s return to the UK.
But Murudkar and Rafique were being watched by the NCA and were arrested shortly after handing over the money.
They denied being involved in the people smuggling plot, claiming to be buying barbering equipment - but texts and phone call evidence contradicted them.
Shortly afterwards, Jabarkhel thought he had finally successfully smuggled himself back into the UK - only to be arrested at the barber shop on July 8, 2021.
Two months later, his co-conspirator Baz Mohammed Jabarkhil also entered the UK illegally via a small boat and was later arrested.
NCA Senior Investigating Officer Chris Hill said: “This gang were ruthless operators who regarded human beings as little more than goods to profit from.
“They attempted to orchestrate dangerous journeys across the Channel in the backs of lorries where the risk of injury, or worse, were extremely high.”
Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor Kate Anderson added that Gul Wali Jabarkhel showed “no regard for potential risks to the migrants’ safety.
“These crimes are extremely serious and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure those responsible face justice,” she said.
Baz Mohammad Jabarkhil had previously pleaded guilty to illegally entering the UK in September 2021.
Gul Wali Jabarkhel had also pleaded guilty in an earlier hearing for his part in the conspiracy to smuggle Baz Mohammed Jabarkhil into the UK.
They will be sentenced on 1 June.