People smugglers who used a horse box to sneak "desperate" illegal migrants from Calais into the UK for cash have been jailed.
The migrant-smuggling gang brought people across borders through Dover, before taking them to a 'safe house' in Wembley .
Stephen Gardner, 31, originally from Beccles in Suffolk but living in Spain, used his international horse transportation business as a cover for the venture, hiding at least three people in his vehicle and bringing them into the UK from France on May 21 2016.
He was moving four horses from Europe to the UK at the same time.
The people smuggling attempt was organised by Saleh Khaled Farhan, 44, a UK citizen of Kuwaiti origin living in Blackburn.
The pair is now behind bars after an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA), which found that Farhan had arranged for Gardner to collect the men in Marck, near Calais.
Farhan was sentenced to three years and seven months in prison while Gardner was given a three-year jail term on Friday (January 19) at Birmingham Crown Court .
Both men had previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration.
They planned to bring migrants into the UK: 'exploiting their desperation'
NCA senior investigating officer, Ty Surgeon, said: "Gardner used his legitimate business as a cover for people smuggling, thinking he could make a bit of extra money on the side.
"Farhan was key to the whole plan, and we suspect he will have been involved in many other such ventures.
"We know that he and Gardner were likely planning another run – in fact they were in contact only days before Farhan’s arrest.
"These men facilitated the arrival of illegal migrants into the UK by exploiting their desperation, without thought for safety and with the sole motive of profit.
"Working with law enforcement partners at home and abroad we are determined to protect the UK border and do all we can to disrupt the criminal networks involved in organised immigration crime."
The pair had planned to take the ferry back to Dover and drop the migrants off in Elstree, Hertfordshire, before they were collected and taken to a safe house in Wembley.
Throughout the journey, Farhan was in contact with both Gardner and one of the men inside the lorry.
NCA officers arrested Farhan at his home address in Blackburn a month after the trip and established the link to Gardner.
Following Gardner’s arrest, officers found text conversations with his girlfriend on his phone, and in one of them he admitted having been paid around €4,000 for smuggling three migrants during the May 2016 trip.
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