BY TOBY PORTER
The ringleader of an organised criminal network behind hundreds of attempts to smuggle migrants into the UK, has been extradited to Belgium to serve a 10-year jail sentence.
Albanian national Alket Dauti, 31, pictured, was arrested by officers from the National Crime Agency at his home address in Penge in June 2018.
The arrest was part of a joint UK-Belgian investigation into a crime group thought to be using corrupt truck drivers to smuggle men, women and children into the UK, sometimes using refrigerated lorries.
The trucks would pick up migrants in Belgium and transport them to the UK via the Channel ports. Prosecutors in Belgium claimed the network was likely to have been involved in hundreds of attempts to reach the UK.
Some of those attempts were thwarted when the NCA passed intelligence to Border Force, who then intercepted the migrants on arrival in the UK.
Dauti was convicted in his absence by a court in West Flanders on December 14, 2018. He was handed a 10-year prison sentence and €720,000 fine.
Two men who prosecutors say were “lieutenants” of Dauti were sentenced to eight years each.
They await extradition.
NCA regional head of investigations, Andrea Wilson, said: “Through our close working with the Belgian Federal Police and prosecutors we have taken out a significant organised crime group involved in bringing migrants to the UK illegally.
“Dauti was the head of that group. He treated desperate migrants as a commodity he could make money from, and was perfectly happy to risk their lives on incredibly dangerous journeys in the back of lorries.
“He has been convicted in a Belgian court and we have returned him there to serve his sentence.”