Youth jailed for trying to smuggle Iraqis into the UK in sofas


London - Arman Yusuf Rahmani convicted on charges of breaching Britain’s immigration law.

By Prasun Sonwalkar

Published: Mon 14 Jun 2021, 5:10 PM

An Iranian youth, 21, who was granted asylum after entering the United Kingdom (UK) in the back of a lorry and was later caught attempting to smuggle Iraqi migrants below the age of 18 hidden in sofas, was jailed for two years and seven months on Monday.

Arman Yusuf Rahmani was sentenced at Preston Crown Court after pleading guilty to breaking UK immigration law, when he was caught attempting to smuggle people from France and Belgium into the country.

Within two years of entering the UK, he established a criminal network to facilitate illegal entry of foreign nationals, officials said.

From December 2018 to April 2019, Rahmani hired six different ‘men with van’ drivers advertising their services on social media and agreed for them to drive from the UK to France or Belgium to collect and transport second-hand furniture to Britain.

Unknown to the hired drivers, hidden within the sofas were migrants who had paid to be smuggled into the UK concealed in the bases.

The drivers were instructed not to help with loading the vehicles and were distracted while the loading took place.

Chris Philip, the UK’s Minister for Immigration Compliance & Justice, said: “Rahmani showed a blatant disregard for the laws of the UK, a country which provided him with safety and a place to live for which he has rightly paid the price. This case shows the lengths criminals will go to profit from our broken asylum system by putting people’s lives at risk”.

He added: “We are aiming to step up prosecution of those smuggling people into the country which is why this government is bringing legislation through our New Plan for Immigration, breaking the business model of these heinous people smuggling networks and saving lives.”

Video footage and photographs later taken of the hiding spots show that any plea for help from those in the back of the van would not have been heard, confirming Rahmani had no regard for the welfare of the people he was paid to hide.

Upon arrival at the UK border in France, UK Border Force officers searched the vans and quickly identified the migrants hiding inside. All the illegal migrants discovered claimed to be Iraqi male minors.

Rahmani would be eligible for deportation to his native Iran because he is a foreign national offender, officials added.

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