|Iraqi Saman Taha Ahmed, 30, is arrested
LARGE numbers of people smugglers, including kingpins wanted across Europe, have been caught in the UK.
Many of the fugitives came to the UK illegally and claimed asylum before going on to set up their evil networks, a Sunday Express investigation found. At least 20 suspects, wanted for people smuggling across Continental borders, mainly into the UK, are awaiting extradition to the European nations. Others have recently been extradited for similar offences.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed to dismantle networks bringing people illegally into the UK as the Channel migrants crisis grows with 11 boats carrying 164 people arriving on Wednesday.
A further 41 migrants were rescued from four boats and returned to France after they got into difficulty soon after leaving.
The dangers were exposed on Wednesday when Sudanese migrant Abdulfatah Hamdallah, 28, who attempted the crossing in a tiny dinghy, was found drowned on the French coast. Last October 39 Vietnamese people died in a locked refrigerated container which was brought across the channel on a freight ship.
As the Home Office and National Crime Agency (NCA) seek to track down and disrupt the gangs, our probe shows many major players live in the UK.
Countries including France, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Hungary, Slovakia and Albania have all sought traffickers hiding in the UK this year.
On Thursday, Westminster Magistrates' Court heard the case of Afghan Narinder Singh Khatari, 48, from Hounslow, who was wanted by The Netherlands for facilitating unauthorised entry and residence.
His extradition proceedings were ended after the court heard he had died and a death certificate was filed. Hashem Saleh Bazlah appeared at the same court on Wednesday. The 32-year-old from Leamington Spa, had been arrested on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) and remanded in custody.
He is wanted in France for the smuggling of migrants, human trafficking and money laundering and the case was adjourned.
Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch, said: "This is shocking, and another sign of how lax immigration control has become. "I shudder to think of how many dangerous criminals have taken, and will take, advantage of our ever looser asylum system.
"My question to the Government is, when will you take back control, as you promised?" Freddy Nika, 47, was arrested in Edgware, north London, in December on another EAW issued by France.
The Albanian came to the UK in 1999, claiming to be a refugee from the Kosovan War, and was granted asylum.
He was convicted of people smuggling offences in his absence in France in June 2019 and sentenced to five years in jail. Westminster Magistrates were told the French court found he was the head of an Albanian crime gang that got migrants into France before smuggling them into the UK in lorries at £8,000 to £9,000 per person.
The court heard between February and April 2016, Nika was in charge of at least 11 illegal crossings and attempts.
He denied being involved in people smuggling and claimed someone must have stolen his identity. District judge Nina Tempia said he should be extradited and could apply for a retrial in France.
Vietnamese crime head Chan Khan is also being sent to France to serve eight years for trafficking nationals from his homeland.
He entered the UK illegally in 2012, but failed to get asylum. However, he was given temporary leave to remain until 2021. He was arrested in January in Bexhill, East Sussex, and was also wanted by the NCA.
The trafficking allegedly took place from 2015 until May 2017 in Paris, Dunkirk and Grande Synthe, in France, the UK and Vietnam. Khan denied being the wanted person, giving another name.
In a judgement ordering his extradition, judge Michael Snow wrote: "The requested person was found to be one of the main organisers of a Vietnamese illegal immigration network.
"He was heard to order the reprimand of a migrant, he was also heard to discuss guards of the migrant storage places."
Many others are hoping extradition requests will be refused. Iraqi Saman Taha Ahmed, 30, is wanted in Belgium for allegedly heading a network smuggling people into the UK in HGVs.
He is remanded in custody ahead of an extradition hearing. He was arrested with British girlfriend Jemma Killoran, 36, in Slough, Berks, and she is also fighting extradition and has been bailed.
NCA head of organised immigration crime operations, Steve Reynolds, said: "The criminal networks involved in people smuggling are ruthless, treating migrants as a commodity to be profited from and exploiting their desperation.
"We are determined to do all we can to disrupt and dismantle these networks."
A spokesman for the Home Office, led by Priti Patel, said: "We are targeting the abhorrent criminals, people smugglers and organised crime gangs facilitating migrants travelling through Europe into the UK.
"This year we have jailed 24 people smugglers.
"We are working to dissolve their networks, by disrupting their operations and seizing their illicit assets which includes almost £400,000 last month."
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!