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Smuggler jailed for ferrying migrants across the Channel in rubber dinghies

A smuggler has been jailed for taking migrants across the Channel in tiny inflatable boats.

Sarbast Mohammed Hama, 31, with no fixed address in the UK, admitted to helping with illegal immigration to Lewes Crown Court and was jailed for three years and four months.

The Iraqi national was investigated when he was arrested in an inflatable boat full of 13 migrants, including two children, by a border guard near Folkestone, Kent, in March.

Checks have revealed that he was previously arrested on another inflatable boat on Christmas Day 2018 off the coast of Deal in Kent along with 10 Iraqi migrants, the Home Office said.

After this run-in with the law, he falsely claimed to be Iranian and requested permission to stay in the UK, a process that was ongoing.

Hama was arrested after the second stop.

Steve Whitton of Border Force Maritime Command said: “When he was intercepted by Border Force, Hama was involved in reckless attempts to smuggle people, including young children, into the UK.

“The ships used were incapable of crossing the Channel in the best conditions, let alone in the middle of winter.

National Crime Agency investigators examined the boat after Hama was arrested and traced it to a store in the Netherlands.

From there, an Immigration Enforcement criminal and financial investigation team secured CCTV that showed him buying the boat with engines and life jackets.

He was also filmed changing his car’s license plates outside the store.

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