A people smuggler has laughed off the fate of the 39 migrants found dead in a shipping container, saying: ‘It is the luck of the draw.’
The British-based trafficker made the cruel comment as he offered to sneak an undercover reporter into the UK using the same route which ended in such tragedy last week.
Separately, Maurice Robinson, the 25 – year-old lorry driver who went to collect the container, was last night charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people.
Just hours after news of the appalling discovery of the bodies last week, our reporters discovered that a UK-based Albanian using the pseudonym ‘Kace Kace’ was offering to help smuggle migrants into
The Mail on Sunday has established that he is, in fact, called Kastrijot Ahmati and lives in Walthamstow, North East London. He claims to have been illegally smuggled into the UK in the back of a lorry himself.
Kastrijot Ahmati, pictured, advertises his trafficking services, displaying his phone number on a Facebook page called ‘Albanians in London.’ He said that he came to London on the back of a lorry himself and referred to the deaths of the 39 people in the container in Essex this week as ‘the luck of the draw’
Ahmati advertised his services and posted his mobile number on a Facebook page called ‘Albanians in London’, which has more than 16, 000 followers.
When an undercover reporter contacted him, he told her she could pay £ 17, 000 for ‘fake papers’ that would allow her to fly from the Albanian capital, Tirana.
Alternatively , she could pay £ 14, 000 to be stowed away in the back of a lorry from Belgium – the origin of the container i n which the 39 people died last week.
Speaking on Friday, just two days after the grim discovery at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, Ahmati told the undercover reporter that the trip from Belgium can take between 12 and 16 hours, Depending on whether ‘the ferry is delayed’.
The Waterglade Industrial Park where 39 bodies were found in a lorry container. Bodies of 39 people found in a lorry container, Grays, Essex, UK
In this file photo taken on October 23, 2019 British Police forensics officers work on lorry, found to be containing 39 dead bodies
‘I have done it myself,’ he said. ‘I am trying to find you the easiest way, do you understand?’
The reporter claimed she wanted to travel with another family member, but she was told they would have to be smuggled with other migrants otherwise the people trafficking gang would makes ‘no profit’.
She would pay on arrival in the UK, but Ahmati demanded the details of a friend in London who would guarantee the money.
Shocking, callous exchange with a cold-hearted crook
Smartly dressed and sipping a Costa coffee, Kastrijot Ahmati does not stand out in a crowd.
But today’s investigation by The Mail on Sunday exposes him as part of a vile people smuggling network that puts the lives of desperate migrants at risk for profit. Brazenly posting his mobile number on Facebook, Ahmati offers to help smuggle people into the UK for between £ 14, 000 and £ 17, 000
In a Facebook video call with our undercover reporter, he shrugged off the deadly risks of stowing away in a lorry and laughed at the horrific death of 39 migrants last week.
He told her that being smuggled in a truck from Belgium was safe and that he had traveled into the UK by lorry himself. ‘I have done it myself. I came myself with the group that I mentioned to you, with my compatriots. ‘
When the reporter said she was’ scared ‘after last week’s tragedy, the trafficker sneered:’ It is the luck of the draw. That is how we all came. ‘
Our investigator repeated her concerns, saying,’ We will die ‘, but Ahmati simply laughed and declared:’ I do not know what to say , I am showing you the quickest and shortest route to the UK, I swear to God. ‘
Then, in a sign that it is business as usual for the traffickers despite the tragedy in Essex, he told our investigator to be prepared to travel imminently. ‘Maybe they will say at the end of the week, do you understand?’
When the reporter said she was’ scared ‘because of last week’s tragedy, the trafficker replied:’ It is the luck of the draw. That is how we all came. ‘
When she continued to voice her fears, saying,’ We will die ‘, Ahmati simply laughed.
The trafficker is believed to be from Has, a district in northern Albania, from which hundreds of migrants are thought to have left for the UK. It is not known how long he has lived in Britain, although Facebook posts suggest he has been here since at least September 2018. Earlier this month, he posted a video of himself smoking a cigarette and strolling around outside a London train station.
When approached for comment last night, Ahmati answered the phone and confirmed he was in the UK. Speaking via a friend, he claimed he had been ‘joking’ in the messages posted online and during the telephone call. In response to a WhatsApp message asking him to explain his actions, he replied ‘why’. His ‘Kace Kace’ Facebook account was taken down shortly afterwards.
Our investigation found Ahmati was one of four agents using the ‘Albanians in London’ Facebook page to help migrants smuggle their way into the UK.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) last year said Albanian gangs operating at the ‘higher end of sophistication’ were largely responsible for the surge in migrants being smuggled into the UK.
The total number of known victims of modern slavery and trafficking rocketed by 80 per cent between 2016 and 2018 to 6, 993, according to NCA figures. The victims came from 130 countries with the most foreign nationals – 1, 625 – coming from Albania.
Last night David Wood, former director-general of immigration enforcement at the Home Office, explained how Albanian traffickers operated: ‘What tends to happen is the groups have agents in source countries. That will include China, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Indian subcontinent. ‘These agents will be peddling the mythical, “Get to the UK, it’s the land of milk and honey”.’
Last night our dossier of material, including Ahmati’s identity, was made available to the Metropolitan Police. A force spokesman said any relevant information would be passed to investigating officers.
The trucker arrested after the horrific discovery of a lorry containing the bodies of 39 people was last night charged with manslaughter.
Driver charged over 39 lorry deaths: Police probe claim truck was in convoy of 3 carrying 100 migrants
After three days in custody, Maurice ‘Mo’ Robinson was charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, as well as conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.
Robinson, 25, from Craigavon, County Armagh in Northern Ireland, will appear before Chelmsford Magistrates tomorrow.
Meanwhile a second lorry driver in his 20 s was arrested yesterday at Dublin’s port. Last *** he was in custody.
Also being held were a couple from Warrington, Cheshire, who were arrested on Friday.
Maurice Robinson, 25, has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter over the Essex migrant tragedy
The arrest of the second lorry driver came as it was claimed that the refrigerated trailer in which the dead migrants were found may have been part of a larger convoy of three lorries carrying up to
According to a Catholic priest representing families who fear their loved ones are among the dead, the other two lorry trailers and their human cargo are believed to have made it safely into the UK.
Father Anthony Dang Huu Nam, a Catholic priest from Nghe An, a province in Central Vietnam, said bereaved families have come forward to tell him that 100 people were making their way to Britain for a ‘new life’.
He said: ‘In this case, there were many people, more than 100 people, on their way to a better life, but 39 died. A few families have confirmed the deaths of their relatives, who are the victims of this tragic journey. ‘
The priest added:’ When I learned of the news of people who were on their way to the UK in search of a new life but [who] lost their lives instead – it’s not just the district of Yen Than, but the whole country that is in sorrow. This is a tragedy the whole country has to bear. ‘
It is now thought that as many as 25 of the 39 victims are Vietnamese and from the same impoverished coastal region of Yen Than.
Relatives said several were going to work in nail salons.
The family of Pham Thi Tra My revealed she had sent heart-rending text messages as she was suffocating inside the container as it crossed the English Channel.
The 26 – year-old, from rural Ha Thin in Central Vietnam, wrote: ‘I’m sorry Dad and Mom.
‘ The way I went overseas was not successful … I’m dying because I can’t breathe. Mom, I am so sorry. ‘
Her father, Pham Van Thin, who lives in a hut with a corrugated tin roof and earns around £ 300 per month, yesterday said he and his wife, Nguyen Thi Phong, had scraped together £ 30, 000 to send their daughter to the West for a better life. ‘I’ve lost both my loved one and my money,’ he said.
Mr Pham said the traffickers did not tell him how they would smuggle their daughter to the UK, but knew she had gone via China and France. ‘The smugglers said that this was a safe route, that people would go by airplane, car.
‘ If I had known she would go by this route, I would not have let her go, ‘he told CNN. Hoang Thi Thuong, from Nghe An province, fears her husband Nguyen Dinh Tu is also a victim. He paid £ 11, 000 to smugglers to get to Britain but has not been heard from since October 21
Police activity at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex, after 39 bodies were found inside a lorry container on the industrial estate
Ms Hoang revealed he had been working illegally in Romania and Germany and had begged her for money to get to the UK.
She said: ‘I have a big debt to pay, no hope, and no energy to do anything.
‘I know he was in that truck because I have relatives who are working over there [in the UK] who called me and told me.
‘ They were supposed to pick him up at the drop point but then they called and told me Tu was in that truck. ‘
Father-of-two Vo Ngoc Nam, 28, is also feared to have been in the ill-fated container.
The family of Nguyen Dinh Tu, pictured, fear that he was on board the lorry which claimed the lives of 39 people this week in Essex
His wife, Ta Thi Oanh, told Vietnamese media that he had called her last Tuesday afternoon to say he was on the truck going to Britain.
He asked her to call her parents and ask them to pray for him, but has not been heard of since. Mr Nam’s father, Vo Ngoc Luyen, said: ‘After reading information about the 39 people in the container in the UK, my family is extremely shocked. We are anxiously waiting for official information from the authorities. ‘
Others who may be involved are Anna Bui Thi Nhung, 19, whose parents have set up an altar with her photograph at their home; Nguyen Dinh Luong, 20, whose father received a call last week from a Vietnamese man saying ‘something unexpected happened’ and cousins Hung Nguyen, 33, and Hoang Van Tiep.
Their aunt posted photographs on social media in the hope that they might be found alive
The refrigerated lorry container left the Belgian port of Zeebrugge on Tuesday afternoon, arriving at Purfleet Docks just after midnight on Wednesday.
The trailer is alleged to have been picked up by Mr Robinson at around 12. 30 am, before being driven to nearby Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays.
Around 1. 40 am, ambulance and police services were called when bodies were discovered inside the trailer.
In an effort to gather more intelligence, Detective Chief I nspector Martin Passmore, of Essex Police, said any friends or relatives of victims who came forward would be granted an ‘amnesty’ from prosecution if they were in the UK illegally themselves.
‘ We will take no action whatsoever against an individual that comes forward, ‘he said. ‘I want to engage as much as I can with the Vietnamese community.
Pham Van Thin (R) and Nguyen Thi Phong (L), father and mother of Pham Thi Tra My, who is believed to be among the 39 people found dead in a container truck in southeastern England, in their home in Can Loc district, Ha Tinh province, Vietnam, (October 2019
‘There may well be people who are here illegally who think they may have lost a loved one, and are frightened to come forward.’
He spoke as the bodies of all 39 victims were removed from the lorry container at a secure location in Tilbury docks and taken to a mortuary at the Moorfield Hospital in nearby Chelmsford.
Police said that fingerprints of the deceased had been taken and sent to Vietnam for fast-track identification.
VietHome, a British organ isation which tries to help UK-based Vietnamese residents, said it had been sent 20 photographs and names of people feared to have been inside the lorry container.
Last night, Thomas Maher, 38, the boss of a haulage company from Warrington, Cheshire, and his wife Joanna, 38, were in custody after being Arrested in connection to the deaths.
A 48 – year-old man from Northern Ireland, who was arrested at Stansted Airport, also remains in custody.
Federal police in Belgium are studying CCTV footage of the haulier who transported the 39 migrants into Zeebrugge site.
It has emerged that the driver was picked up by CCTV cameras ten times at the port.