Sat. May 21st, 2022

A human trafficker who boasted that he could get 50 people a week to England has been jailed for nine years and nine months in prison.

Arthuras Jusas from Wandsworth Road, Lambeth, was part of a criminal group that tried to smuggle 69 Albanian migrants into Britain on a dilapidated fishing vessel.

They grounded the 60-year-old vessel twice before coming close to its destination.

The 35-year-old was one of a gang of six men who bought the boat – which had only 21 life jackets – and was caught trying to bring 69 illegal immigrants to Norfolk.

Arturas Jusas

The crime group was involved in the smuggling attempt on 17 November last year, when the 30 m rebuilt trawler ‘Svanic’ was intercepted off the coast on its way to the seaside resort of Great Yarmouth.

The boat – built almost 60 years ago and with a lifeboat for only 20 people – was set off from the Ostend area in Belgium when it was seized by the Coast Guard.

It was escorted to Harwich International Harbor in an operation that also involved the National Crime Agency (NCA), the Border Force, Immigration Enforcement and the Essex Police.

The NCA had been alerted to the vessel by the Maritime Analysis and Operations Center in Lisbon. The Portuguese authorities had received a report of suspicious activity from their Swedish colleagues – who had helped Svanic after it ran aground 15 days before they picked up the migrants.

The vessel, which had been bought in Latvia for around 20,000 euros in October 2020, ran aground once again before gathering migrants in Belgium.

The three crew members – Igor Kosyi, 57, and Volodymyr Mykhailov, 49, both from Ukraine, and Alexsandrs Gulpe, 44, from Latvia – were arrested by the NCA on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration. The 69 migrants were handed over to Immigration Enforcement.

NCA investigators seized a laptop from the vessel, allowing them to identify the British gang that had orchestrated the experiment.

The computer had been given to the crew by Latvian citizen Sergei Kuliss, 32, from Albert Basin Way, Newham. Telephone evidence showed that Kuliss was in Great Yarmouth at night waiting for the boat.

During the day, Kuliss had been in contact with other conspirators, Lithuanian citizen Jusas and Israeli citizen Kfir Ivgi, 39, of Finchley.

Messages found on their phones showed that the three men spent weeks discussing their plans to buy a boat for the operation, in which Jusas claimed “From the first trip we will get the money back.”

Once Svanic had been identified as a possible purchase, Kuliss sent a sequence of photographs and videos of the boat to Jusas, which he forwarded to Ivgi. He replied, “Yes, yes, yes … I do not care what it looks like, it’s good.”

In an audio message found on his phone after his arrest, Jusas boasted to Ivgi that he planned to “bring 50 people every week”. Other messages showed that he was in contact with people on the ‘other side’ who wanted to move migrants to Britain.

The trio had also revealed potential landing sites for the vessel, which had only 21 life jackets on board, and eventually settled on Great Yarmouth.

After the interception, the band shared online news reports about the incident with each other, with Ivgi sending a message to Jusas to say “Clean … the phone.”

Jusas, Ivgi and Kuliss were arrested during a series of NCA raids in June this year after investigators were able to gather their involvement in the plot.

They were accused along with Kosyi, Mykhailov and Gulpe of conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration.

Jusas pleaded guilty at Chelmsford Crown Court on August 6, but after an eight-week trial in the same court, Ivgi, Kuliss, Gulpe and Kosyi were found guilty on November 17 – exactly one year since the boat was intercepted.

Volodymyr Mykhailov was found not guilty.

Left to right: Kfir IVGI, Igor KOSYI, Sergejs KULISS and at the bottom Arturas JUSAS

Jusas, Ivgi, Kuliss and Kosyi were convicted in the same court. Gulpe, 43, from Olaine, Latvia, was convicted today (January 21).

NCA Director of Investigation Nikki Holland said: “These men had no qualms about trying to smuggle vulnerable migrants aboard an unseaworthy vessel with ambitions to bring in hundreds more using this deadly method.

“Their only motivation was money greed, so I’m glad they’re now starting long prison sentences for these heinous crimes.

“By working with partners like the Border Force and Immigration Enforcement, we will relentlessly prosecute human traffickers and bring them to justice to face the consequences of their actions.”

Sergei’s Scene 33, from Albert Basin Way, Newham – but arrested at an address in Tonbridge, Kent – was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Kfir Ivgi 38, from Corrigan Close, Finchley, London, sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Igor Kosyi, 57, from Odesa, Ukraine, was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Alexsandrs Gulpe, 43, from Olaine, Latvia, was today (January 21) sentenced to eight years in prison by Chelmsford Crown Court.

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