A UK national identified as Oozy Hughes (also known as Mark Newton) has been sentenced to jail for his involvement in smuggling migrants into the UK using a campervan, after his alibi was exposed as a fabrication. This was brought to light by a casino receipt that confirmed his connection to the incident.
In March 2018, the driver of a van was stopped by British Border Force officers at Harwich International Port in Essex. Upon searching the van, officers discovered four hidden passengers who had paid Hughes to take them from Albania to the UK. Hughes had initially claimed he had rented the van for a trip to Spain and returned to the UK by ferry from Santander. However, evidence found in the van, including a casino receipt from Belgium, revealed discrepancies in his story. Subsequent investigations, including GPS data from the campervan, further contradicted Hughes’ statements, revealing his travel route through Belgium to the Netherlands. He also made calls from his mobile phone to numbers associated with a Belgian people smuggling ring.
Hughes eventually pleaded guilty to facilitating the illegal entry into the UK and was sentenced to 15 months in prison. This incident reflects the increasing prevalence of human trafficking and slavery in the UK, as evidenced by other smuggling operations such as the one orchestrated by Hewa Rahimpur, who directed the operations from his residence in Ilford, East London.
The case of the “Essex lorry deaths” in October 2019 continues to be a prominent example of the dangers and exploitation faced by migrants seeking illegal entry into the UK. This incident involved 39 Vietnamese migrants who were found dead in a refrigerated lorry container in Grays, Essex, UK. Maurice Robinson, the driver, and five others involved in the smuggling operation were sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to 20 years for their roles in the incident.