People Traffickers ‘Nailed’ Toddlers into Wardrobes in Smuggling Attempt

SOUTHAMPTON, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 13: A Border Force detector dog checks shipping containers at Southampton docks on August 13, 2014 in Southampton, England. Border Force is the law enforcement command within the Home Office responsible for the security of the UK border by enforcing immigration and customs controls on …
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A number of people traffickers have been jailed after toddlers were “nailed” into wardrobes in an attempt to smuggle them into the UK.

Five men have been jailed for being involved in people smuggling attempts which saw toddlers as young as two years of age “nailed” into wardrobes described as “coffin-like” by officials from the UK’s home office.

Paramjeet Singh Baweja, Viljit Singh Khurana, Harmohan Singh, Manmohan Singh Wadhwa and Dumitru Bacelan were all given prison terms for their involvement in a people-smuggling operation, which saw Afghans of various ages hidden in specially made compartments in the hopes of sneaking them into the UK.

According to a report by The Telegraph, these compartments, made from wardrobes and surrounded by other pieces of furniture in the back of vans, were “nailed” shut in such a way as to prevent migrants from escaping the containers without assistance.

With up to seven people being sealed into one of these compartments at a time, the publication reports that one group of migrants were only found as they were “shouting for their lives” while being loaded onto a recovery vehicle.

“These life-threatening attempts to smuggle people, including very young children, into the UK in the back of vehicles with room to barely move or breathe, is quite frankly, horrific,” said Home Office Minister, Tom Pursglove, regarding the incident.

“The operation run by this criminal group put children and vulnerable people’s lives in danger for the sake of making a profit,” he continued. “I hope these sentencings send a powerful message that breaking the law and putting individuals’ lives at risk will not go unpunished.”

While horrific, the known victims of the above smugglers can at least count themselves lucky that they escaped their ordeal with their lives.

The same sadly however cannot be said for the 39 Vietnamese nationals who died from a combination of hypoxia and hyperthermia — lack of oxygen and overheating respectively — after being trapped in the back of a lorry in 2019.

A number of men have since been convicted of various offences in relation to the deaths, with Stefan Dragos Damian being one of the most recent individuals involved in the fatal event to be jailed.

Damian — who helped transport illegal migrants as part of the gang involved with the migrants who died — admitted conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration, and was handed down a sentence of 46 months by a British court.

Another senior member of an organisation involved in trafficking at least 15 of the 39 victims was also recently jailed by a Belgian court, being sentenced to 15 years for his part in the deaths.

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