Two people smugglers, including a young pilot from Birmingham, have been jailed after they brought migrants to the UK on light aircraft and in vans fitted with hidden compartments.
Sangar Khalid Mohammed, 32, and Billy Hems, 24, both admitted conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration, with Mohammed also admitting drugs supply.
They were jailed for seven and a half years, and two and a half years respectively, on Friday at Worcester Crown Court.
Mohammed ran a hand car wash near Herefordshire beauty spot Symonds Yat but police officers discovered it was actually a front for a major people smuggling operation.
Behind the scenes, Mohammed was charging desperate people a small fortune – £12,000 per person – to bring them from France.
Meanwhile, Light aircraft pilot Hems, from Rye Croft in Hollywood, was recruited to drop migrants at rural UK airfields on under-the-radar dawn flights and sneak them into the country in secret ‘hides’ on board vans.
Judge Jackson told the pair: ‘Both of you were involved in a conspiracy to bring immigrants illegally in to this country. It involved two successful migrations, one by plane driven by Mr Hems and another in a van.
‘This was a conspiracy to bring migrants in by a variety of different methods of transport – by plane, by vehicle, by boat.’