People smuggler had two Albanians 'effectively trapped' in a 'coffin like hideaway'

Revealed: Secret coffin-like compartment where Romanian people smuggler tried to carry two migrants into the UK in his flatbed truck as he is jailed for two years

  • People trafficker tried to smuggle two Albanian men under floorboards of truck
  • Border Force found the migrants after the vehicle arrived at the Port of Dover 
  • Romanian Stefan-Gabriel Bucur, 20, was jailed for 30 months on Friday 

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A people trafficker who hid two men in a secret coffin-like compartment of his truck has been jailed for two and a half years.

Border Force officials found two Albanian men behind a wooden panel that had been bolted into the back of Stefan-Gabriel Bucur’s flatbed truck at the Port of Dover in February.   

When officers conducted an external search of the vehicle they spotted additional metal supporting strips running along the underside of the flatbed.

Border Force officials found the boards of the flatbed truck had been bolted down to hide a compartment underneath where two Albanian men were ‘effectively trapped’

People smuggler had two Albanians 'effectively trapped' in a 'coffin like hideaway'

The two Albanian men, who were found in the ‘coffin like hideaway’ were passed on to immigration authorities

Looking closer, officers discovered a gap had been created beneath the floorboards for each of the Albanian men to hide in.

Border Force Deputy Director Martin Coates said: ‘The men had been bolted into the cavity in what was a coffin like hideaway. It took officers more than 20 minutes to remove the bolts and get the boards lifted.

‘Fortunately the men were in good health when we recovered them, but the risk to life of such a concealment – the men were effectively trapped, with no means of independent escape – are plain.

‘We will continue to work with law enforcement partners to bring people smugglers like Bucur to justice.’

Officers said Bucur appeared nervous as officers worked to release the men.

When officers searched the cab of his vehicle they found drawings with measurements matching the concealment dimensions on the van.

Bucur, of no fixed UK address, was arrested and the case passed to Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) team.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of facilitating illegal entry into the UK when he appeared for a pre-trial hearing at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday.

He was sentenced immediately. Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts Chris Philp said: ‘For criminals like Bucur, the people they are smuggling are little more than a commodity whose value is assessed solely in financial terms.

He clearly gave no consideration to the safety of the men he was transporting.

People smuggler had two Albanians 'effectively trapped' in a 'coffin like hideaway'

Stefan-Gabriel Bucur, 20, was jailed for 30 months on Friday after admitting to facilitating illegal entry into the UK

‘I hope his conviction sends a clear message that those who engage in this kind of offending will be caught and prosecuted.’

The Albanian men are being dealt with in line with the immigration rules. 

Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts Chris Philp said: ‘For criminals like Bucur, the people they are smuggling are little more than a commodity whose value is assessed solely in financial terms.

‘He clearly gave no consideration to the safety of the men he was transporting.’ 

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