Six guilty of English Channel migrant smuggling operation" width="976" height="549">
Six men were found guilty - Top row left to right: Bath, Dulaj, Letchford / Bottom row left to right: Nutaj, Alfie Powell, Leonard Powell
Six men have been found guilty of trying to smuggle Albanian migrants in overcrowded boats across the English Channel.The operation, which was mainly based in Dymchurch, in Kent, was uncovered following a series of blunders.Police moved on the gang after they turned to three-person jet skis - which raised serious fears over safety.The nine-week trial heard how one boat linked to the group had to be rescued after nearly sinking.
'Rebel', a rigid-hulled inflatable boat, was found abandoned at Dymchurch
It was built for six people but had 20 people onboard including 18 Albanian migrants.
Another boat had to be rescued after it was found travelling the wrong way up a shipping lane, and had run out of fuel.National Crime Agency (NCA) senior investigator Mark McCormack said the smuggling gang was dangerously incompetent.He said: "We have people controlling vessels with no maritime experience, no sailing experience, who have completed very rudimentary courses of one or two days, trying to cross this busy shipping channel at night in a small vessel not utilising lights or radar."Mr McCormack questioned "the level of incompetency of the crime group".
'Night fishing'
The court heard that migrants, including men, women and children, were charged up to
Migrants were brought across in small boats, the court heard
Father and son Leonard and Alfie Powell were convicted at the Old Bailey alongside Bath, Albert Letchford, Sabah Dulaj and Artur Nutaj.Two other men - Alan Viles and Francis Wade - were found not guilty. The six have yet to be sentenced.
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