Three members of an organised crime gang were jailed for nine years and five months on Wednesday for assisting the illegal immigration of Georgian nationals into the United Kingdom through Ireland.
Work by the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) helped to secure the convictions at Isleworth Crown Court, London. Bureau officers were in the United Kingdom during the search-and-arrest phase.
A further three members of the gang had been sentenced to a total of six years and six months imprisonment following earlier hearings.
The gang sought to abuse the Common Travel Area to smuggle people into the United Kingdom via Ireland. The special travel zone between the United Kingdom, Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man allows nationals of these countries to travel freely within the area without routine border controls.
The individuals were charged in June of this year after seven addresses in London and Kent were targeted during an investigation into a suspected people-smuggling ring.
During the investigation, officers also arrested four people – two men and two women, all Georgian nationals – who immigration checks found had either entered the UK illegally or overstayed. They will have their cases assessed.
The investigation by Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) officers that started in June 2017 was supported by the Cross Border Joint Agency Task Force (JATF).
The JATF comprises Immigration Enforcement, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the GNIB and enables cross-border policing co-operation and intelligence sharing.
Additional JATF members include, An Garda Síochána, HM Revenue & Customs, the Revenue Commissioners, the Criminal Assets Bureau, and the National Crime Agency.
Det Chief Supt David Dowling of GNIB said the force will continue to work with authorities on international issues.
“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,” he said.
"Garda National Immigration Bureau has collaborated and shared intelligence throughout this investigation and will continue to work closely with all our law enforcement partners."
Deputy Director Dave Magrath, from Immigration Enforcement CFI, said he is pleased that the organised crime gang has been dismantled.
“We work closely with law enforcement partners – particularly Border Force, PSNI in Northern Ireland and the GNIB in the Republic of Ireland – to tackle abuse of the Common Travel Area,” he added.