A Russian lorry driver has been jailed after being caught smuggling migrants, one as young as 5, from Britain to France.
Nikolai Kuznetsov, 39, and his HGV were stopped attempting to cross the Channel by Border Force officers guarding the Dover Docks on 17 August last year.
As border guards scoured his trailer 22 migrants, including a five-year-old girl and her parents, were found hiding inside.
The migrants, all of North African origin, were attempting to avoid French border immigration/visa controls as they tried to leave Great Britain.
Kuznetsov was arrested by officers from the National Crime Agency on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry to an EU state.
He pleaded guilty at the first opportunity at Canterbury Magistrates Court and was sentenced to four years and four months in prison.
John Turner, Operations Manager at the National Crime Agency said: “Kuznetsov was complicit with the people smugglers whose only concern was making money, rather than the wellbeing of those individuals found in his trailer.
“Thankfully they were found and safeguarded, but we know organised crime groups will continue in their attempts to use migrants to make money.”
He added: “This sentencing sends a clear message to anyone concerned in facilitating illegal migration, to or from the UK, that they will be caught and will receive a custodial sentence.”
It came after the final member of a people-smuggling gang linked to the deaths of 39 men, women and children in Essex was jailed for seven years.
Haulage boss Caolan Gormley, 26, from Co Tyrone, was driven by “greed” when he plotted to bring migrants into the UK from mainland Europe three times in October 2019, the Old Bailey heard.
Gormley had denied being involved, claiming he thought he was helping bring alcohol into the UK illegally.
His conviction brings the total number of people to be convicted over the plot to 11, five of whom were also convicted of the manslaughters.