People smugglers caught hiding family-of-five in back of van at Essex port jailed for 30 months each

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People smugglers caught hiding a family-of-five in the back of a van at Essex port after drilling air holes into a false bulkhead are jailed for 30 months each

  • Border Force searched van driven by Leontin Padure, 37, who was then arrested
  • Maria-Mirabela Bulumez, 22, and Marcel-Ionut Frant, 27, were also arrested
  • Officers found three men and two women from Afghanistan hiding in the van 
  • It arrived at Harwich International Port, Essex, on a ferry from the Netherlands 

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Three people smugglers caught hiding a family-of-five in the back of a van have been jailed for 30 months each.

Leontin Padure, 37, Maria-Mirabela Bulumez, 22, and Marcel-Ionut Frant, 27, were all arrested after they were stopped at Harwich International Port, Essex.

Border Force officers searched a red Mercedes Sprinter van driven by Padure as it arrived on a ferry from the Netherlands.

Leontin Padure, 37 (pictured), was driving the red Mercedes Sprinter van that was searched by Border Force officers at Harwich International Port, Essex

People smugglers caught hiding family-of-five in back of van at Essex port jailed for 30 months each

Maria-Mirabela Bulumez, 22 (pictured), was one of three people arrested.

They were each sentenced to 30 months in prison at Chelmsford Crown Court, the Home Office said 

People smugglers caught hiding family-of-five in back of van at Essex port jailed for 30 months each

Marcel-Ionut Frant, 27 (pictured), was one of three smugglers, originally from Romania with no fixed UK address, who admitted charges of assisting unlawful immigration

People smugglers caught hiding family-of-five in back of van at Essex port jailed for 30 months each

The officers found four people hiding in a false bulkhead in the rear of the van (pictured) and air holes had been drilled into the hiding place

The officers found four people hiding in a false bulkhead in the rear of the van, with a fifth person hiding behind the row of seats.

Air holes had been drilled into the hiding place where the family of three men and two women from Afghanistan were found.

Officers also found tools used to seal up the false partition between the driver's cab and the back of the van which was stopped on February 16. 

The three smugglers, all originally from Romania with no fixed UK address, admitted charges of assisting unlawful immigration.

They were each sentenced to 30 months in prison on August 24 at Chelmsford Crown Court, the Home Office said.

Frant was also handed a nine-month concurrent sentence for possessing a false driving licence.

People smugglers caught hiding family-of-five in back of van at Essex port jailed for 30 months each

A fifth person was found hiding behind the row of seats.

The family, from Afghanistan, are being dealt with according to immigration rules the Home Office has said 

People smugglers caught hiding family-of-five in back of van at Essex port jailed for 30 months each

Officers also found tools used to seal up the false partition (pictured) between the driver's cab and the back of the van which was stopped on February 16

People smugglers caught hiding family-of-five in back of van at Essex port jailed for 30 months each

 A fifth person was found hiding behind the seats of the van (pictured) that arrived on a ferry from the Netherlands 

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: 'We will not tolerate people smuggling in any form, and are doing all we can to tackle those responsible for this appalling trade.

'This was a reckless attempt to circumvent our border controls and anyone in doubt about the consequences of such actions should take note - you will be caught and put behind bars.'

The Home Office said the cases of the family are being dealt with according to the immigration rules.

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