A Romanian man will spend six years in a U.K. jail for smuggling 21 Vietnamese citizens into the country.
The Vietnamese, including children, were hidden in two “coffin hides” inside a refrigerated truck that Andrut Mihai Duma, 29, drove last November.
Border Force police stopped Duma at the Port of Newhaven, East Sussex. He told them he had collected the truck near Dieppe, France.
The police discovered the Vietnamese when an officer saw some clothing in the water pallets of the truck.
Duma pleaded guilty to “assisting unlawful immigration” and was sentenced to six years in prison at the Guildford Crown Court, BirminghamLive reported Tuesday.
“[The Vietnamese] were literally in the modern equivalent of a slave ship,” the report quoted Judge Rufus Taylor as saying. The judge also recommended that Duma be deported.
Duma’s act was “no amateur effort at people trafficking,” but the work of an organized crime gang, said prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis.
“There must have been significant sums of money either paid or due to the smugglers” by the Vietnamese, he added.
Earlier this month, another Romanian was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for trafficking 10 Vietnamese from Germany to the U.K.
Vietnam is consistently one of the top source countries for modern slaves in Britain – at least 3,187 Vietnamese victims have been identified since 2009, according to official data.
About 362 possible child victims from Vietnam were discovered in Britain in 2017, up more than a third over 2016.
Victims trafficked from Vietnam most commonly end up being exploited, often in cannabis farms and nail bars, but many are also sexually exploited, according to a report commissioned by Britain’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland.