A lorry driver who tried to smuggle a group of people, including a man suspected of child sex offences, out of the UK has been jailed for six years.
Sebastian Gabriel Podar, 48, from Tuzrii in Romania, was arrested as part of a National Crime Agency (NCA) operation at the Port of Dover in the early hours of Wednesday, December 2 last year.
His truck was being monitored as part of Operation Symbolry, a long running NCA investigation into an organised crime group alleged to be behind the smuggling of hundreds of asylum seekers both into and out of the UK in lorries.
Nine people were discovered in the rear of the HGV, which was booked to go on to a ferry to France.
Among the nine was a 39-year-old Bangladeshi man under investigation for child sexual offences by police in Nottinghamshire.
He was later charged with 20 offences.
The remaining eight, of Indian, Algerian and Bangladeshi nationality, were handed to the immigration authorities.
Podar had previously been stopped on October 16 in the same lorry by police in the Edmonton area of north London.
On that occasion six people were found inside.
NCA officers charged Podar with two counts of attempting to facilitate a breach of immigration law.
He initially denied the charges, but mid-way through a trial at Canterbury Crown Court he changed his plea to guilty.
Last week, on May 19, he was sentenced to six years in prison.
NCA branch operations manager Chris Hill said: “Criminal gangs involved in people smuggling need complicit lorry drivers like Podar.
“Their business model depends on it.
“For his part Podar saw this as an opportunity to make money, but instead he now faces a long prison sentence far away from home.
“I hope this sends out a message to others who would consider doing the same. It simply isn’t worth the risk.
“People smugglers put lives at risk and we are determined to do all we can to disrupt and dismantle the criminal networks involved.”
Read more: All the latest news from Dover
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