Page last updated at 18:40 GMT, Wednesday, 3 September 2008 19:40 UK

People smuggled 'for huge profit'

A group accused of smuggling Chinese nationals into the UK made huge profits from their "despair", a court heard.

The gang hid their "human commodities" in lorries and car boots and trafficked them across the English Channel, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Two of the 15 accused over the people-smuggling plot have appeared in court.

Kenan Giltas, 42, of Enfield, north-west London, and John Ashcroft, 60, of Kidderminster, Worcs, deny conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Of the 15 people charged, five people have already pleaded guilty, including the mastermind Chun Yu, 22, from Peckham, south London, and Inan Taskin, 30, from Tottenham, north London.

Some of those who were brought to this country were perhaps compelled by poverty and the lure of a better life to take the risk of using this criminal network
Ken Millett, prosecuting

Seven others, who cannot be named for legal reasons, will face trial next year. Yu's accomplice Xun Zheng skipped bail but will also face trial if he is found.

Ken Millett, for the prosecution, described the "vast conspiracy" to traffic people, largely from China.

"Some of those who were brought to this country were perhaps compelled by poverty and the lure of a better life to take the risk of using this criminal network," he said.

"As a result they undertook journeys which were financially very expensive for them or their families and, of course, very dangerous for them."

The accused were involved in the plot for the "huge profits they could make from the human commodities of sadness and despair" he added.

'Vast conspiracy'

Mr Ashcroft, who moved to Belgium, helped smuggle some of the illegal immigrants from France and Belgium.

"He did this on a number of occasions, until, in September 2007, he was caught by authorities in Dunkirk with two immigrants in his boot," Mr Millett said.

Mr Giltas was a "runner" for Taskin, a senior gang member, and "also provided transport for illegals dropped by lorry in Dover and brought them to London", the court heard.

"Giltas was not quite his first lieutenant but someone involved to the extent that police observations showed him picking up money from Yu," he said.

Officers from Scotland Yard secretly filmed some of the gang's smuggling runs and were helped by police from Europe who investigated the France end of the "vast conspiracy".

Mr Giltas and Mr Ashcroft both face one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration between April 2007 and February 2008.

The trial continues.




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