UK Court Sentences Four for Human Trafficking

Published: 30 August 2023

UK Human Traffickers Tershana Rice Myrtaj Shenaj

The U.K. authorities sentenced Banet Tershana, Desmond Rice, Jetmir Myrtaj and Klodian Shenaj (L to R) to nearly 20 years in jail, for human trafficking. (Photo: National Crime Agency, License)

By Zdravko Ljubas

A court in the United Kingdom has sentenced four men to nearly 20 years in prison for orchestrating the illegal crossing of migrants from France and Belgium to the U.K., as announced by the country's National Crime Agency (NCA).

The NCA stated that it confirmed the involvement of "Albanians Banet Tershana, Klodian Shenaj, Jetmir Myrtaj, and British national Desmond Rice in a series of crossings during October 2022."

"Tershana served as the organizer and financier, collecting payments from migrants. Shenaj acted as the intermediary between facilitators in mainland Europe and the UK, while Myrtaj and Rice played crucial roles in facilitating the crossings," according to NCA Branch Commander Derek Evans.

The initial incident occurred on October 8 last year when a coast guard plane sighted a rigid hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) named Orca disembarking migrants in Joss Bay, Kent. The same drop-off location was used for a second crossing on October 23.

The investigation unveiled that Jetmir Myrtaj, hailing from Leicester, employed a false identity to arrange for the mooring of the Orca at a marina in Brightlingsea, Essex. He financed repair work to render the vessel seaworthy. Phone evidence also indicated that he awaited the boat's arrival on the beach during the early hours of October 9.

Furthermore, the NCA revealed that Desmond Rice, residing in Aylesbury, acquired a second yacht, Aquaholic, for 22,500 British pounds (US$28,369). Rice and Klodian Shenaj from Nottingham retrieved the yacht from Poole and relocated it to Brightlingsea Marina. The investigation also found that Rice had acquired around 1,000 pounds ($1,260)-worth of gasoline for the yacht. GPS data indicated that the vessel sailed to Belgium before returning to the U.K. Simultaneously, mobile phone records indicated that Shenaj and Tershana were present in the Essex region when the yacht returned.

"A third crossing was attempted when Rice provided a kayak to two men for accessing the boat. NCA officers, monitoring the situation, alerted Belgian Police, leading to the interception of the boat as it landed on the coast near Nieuwpoort on October 29," the statement read.

It further revealed that two pilots were apprehended while attempting to load 12 migrants onto the boat, including a woman and a child.

Currently, the two are undergoing trial in Belgium, as confirmed by the NCA.

While the U.K. law enforcement agency continues its search for Arsen Feci from Nottingham, who faces charges of aiding unlawful immigration, it was noted that Feci was "bailed by the court in March 2023 and subsequently absconded." The NCA suspects that he has fled the country.