The head of a people smuggling ring was arrested at Manchester Airport after going on the run.
Tarik Namik, 45, operated a sophisticated, lucrative criminal enterprise transporting migrants from Iraq and Iran to the UK hidden in the back of lorries. Nine migrants, including five children, were dumped in a lay by in Skelmersdale, starving, dehydrated and begging for help in September 2017.
They had been illegally brought into the country in a Polish lorry, as part of an elaborate smuggling ring. Namik, from Oldham, failed to turn up at Manchester Crown Court for his sentencing on December 9 last year and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
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In his absence, he was given an eight year jail term. Four other members of his gang were sentenced alongside him, the NCA said in a statement.
On Friday, January 20, Namik was arrested as he arrived into Manchester Airport on a flight from Istanbul. The court had previously heard how Namik headed up the organised crime group who became subject of a National Crime Agency investigation in 2017.
Working for him were Hajar Ahmed, 39 and from Manchester, and Soran Saliy, 32 and from Stoke, who would help co-ordinate the UK leg of the operation. Habil Gider, 54, from Stoke, would act as an escort for some of the migrants once they were in the UK, while Hardi Alizada, 32 from Nottingham, travelled out to Europe to co-ordinate from there.
The gang operated a sophisticated and lucrative criminal enterprise, utilising complicit lorry drivers usually from Turkey.
Recordings found on Namik’s phone suggested he may have been involved in the smuggling of at least 1,900 migrants from the Balkans into France or Germany during a 50-day period, charging around 1,800 euros per migrant. The group would then offer two separate means of getting to the UK which would incur extra cost.
Namik’s operation was finally dismantled in April 2018, when he, Ahmed and Saliy were arrested by officers from the NCA. Alizada was arrested in Nottingham in February 2019 and charged in connection with his role.
All five admitted charges against them during a series of previous hearings. On Friday 9 December they were collectively sentenced to 23 years and 11 months at Manchester Crown Court.
NCA Branch Commander Richard Harrison said: “Namik was a prolific people smuggler whose crime group put vulnerable migrants at great risk while he reaped the profits. I’m delighted that he will now face justice for the offences he committed.
“Fugitives never come off our radar, and I’d like to thank our colleagues at Greater Manchester Police for their assistance in ensuring he was detained quickly the moment he set foot back in the UK.”
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