UK Sentences Another Human Smuggler over Deaths of Vietnamese Migrants
A British court sentenced another member of an international group involved in a human smuggling operation that led to the death of 39 Vietnamese migrants inside a lorry.
press release from the Essex Police said. He had pleaded guilty in November and is the 13th member of the group to be jailed.Romanian national, Stefan Dragos Damian, 28, was sentenced to three years and ten months in prison for conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration, a
“Dragos Damian was a key player in an evil people smuggling conspiracy that made money from misery,” said Detective Chief Inspector Louise Metcalfe, Senior Investigating Officer. “Along with his co-conspirators he knew that what he was doing was dangerous and wrong, but through sheer greed he did it anyway.”
In October 2019, men and women between the ages of 15 and 44 were found suffocated after being sealed in an air-tight shipping container for nearly 12 hours.
The investigation into the human smuggling attempt tracked the timeline of the container and found that the victims had arrived to a rural area near Bierne, France, by taxi from various safe houses in Paris, Brussels and Dunkirk.
On October 22, 2019, Eammon Harrison, a 23-year-old driver at the time, picked up the victims and drove them in a lorry to Zeebrugge in Belgium, according to court records. The sealed container with the migrants was loaded on a ship bound for the U.K. The temperature inside had risen to 40 degrees Celsius and the victims tried to contact the outside world by phone and break out through the ceiling.
Before the ship even arrived in the U.K., all 39 people had died.
The container was then picked up by Maurice Robinson, 26, a lorry driver from Northern Ireland, on the morning of October 23, 2019. He was supposed to drive it to Collingwood Farm where Damian was waiting for the migrants.
Robinson stopped in Grays, Essex, and CCTV captured footage of him opening the container doors, and discovering the remains of the migrants. After destroying his cell phone to conceal evidence, Robinson called the police.
Harrison was sentenced on January 22, 2021 to 18 years in prison on 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.
Robinson was sentenced to 13 years and four months in prison for 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property. In a separate press release from Essex Police earlier this month, he was ordered to pay back 21,262 pounds (US$28,076) in criminal earnings from the exploitation of human smuggling.
The two ringleaders, Ronan Hughes and Gheorghe Nica, were given 20 years and 27 years respectively.