Syrian people smugglers jailed by UK bases

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Syrian members of an organised crime group attempting to smuggle Middle Eastern and African nationals into Cyprus through the British Bases have been jailed for a combined three years.

Two Syrian nationals pleaded guilty at His Majesty’s Court Dhekelia for facilitating the illegal entry of two male prohibited migrants from the Congo.

The two men, both in Cyprus legally, were also charged with possession of an offensive weapon and saw the vehicle used in the attempted facilitation seized.

The two Syrians are serving prison sentences of 11 and 14 months, respectively, whilst the two prohibited migrants were convicted to six weeks each.

Further investigations also led to the identification and arrest of a Turkish Cypriot male from Famagusta while attempting to facilitate the illegal entry of an Iraqi national across the Green Line.

He pleaded guilty to facilitation charges and received a prison sentence of 26 weeks on July 11, whilst the Iraqi national is due to discover his fate in court on August 1.

Dhekelia base Customs and Immigration Commanding Officer Mark Hartley said this sent a strong message to would-be traffickers.

“The sentences demonstrate that we will bring those involved in the appalling act of people smuggling to justice, and our efforts will not diminish.

“The hard work from my specialist teams working determinedly, identify, detect and arrest members of organised crime networks and the people traffickers are now behind bars.

“The complexity of these cases should not be underestimated, specially trained SBC and Immigration officers work day and night to ensure those involved do not get away with this heinous crime, ensuring the most vulnerable are not putting their lives in the hands of the traffickers, and the communities of Cyprus are safeguarded”.