Gardai target UK people-smuggling gang as three jailed
Three members of an organised crime gang have been jailed after gardai played a key role in dismantling a people- smuggling operation in the UK.
They were jailed on Wednesday after illegally smuggling migrants into the UK through Ireland, bringing to six the number jailed to date.
Gardai said they got a total of nine years and five months at Isleworth Crown Court for "assisting the illegal immigration into the UK of Georgian nationals".
A further three members of the gang had been sentenced to a total of six years and six months in prison following earlier hearings.
Gardai had worked closely with law enforcement partners over the course of a two-year investigation.
"This is an example of the continued co-operation between the relevant agencies in our efforts to target all types of criminal activity, including illegal immigration in both jurisdictions," said Det Chief Supt David Dowling, of the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB).
He added that the bureau had collaborated and shared intelligence throughout the investigation "and will continue to work closely with all our law enforcement partners".
GNIB members were present in the UK during the search and arrest phase of the operation, supporting the Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) and co-ordinating any potential responses that were required here.
The convictions followed an investigation that began in June 2017 and was supported by the cross-border Joint Agency Task Force (JATF).
The task force comprised officers from GNIB as well as immigration enforcement and the PSNI.
"We are pleased that this organised crime gang, who were involved in a systematic attempt to help individuals evade the UK's immigration controls, has been dismantled," said Immigration Enforcement CFI deputy director Dave Magrath.
"We work closely with law enforcement partners - partic- ularly Border Force, PSNI in Northern Ireland and the GNIB in the Republic of Ireland - to tackle abuse of the Common Travel Area (CTA)."
The CTA is a special travel zone between Ireland, the UK, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Nationals of these countries and territories can travel freely within the CTA without being subject to routine border controls. Documentation requirements are set by the carrier.
A garda statement said the gang had sought to abuse the CTA "to smuggle people into the UK via Ireland".
The joint agency task force enables cross-border co-operation across a range of policing areas, as well as intelligence sharing.
As well as gardai, its members include the Revenue Commissioners, the Criminal Assets Bureau and the UK's National Crime Agency.