Car wash owner led ‘large-scale’ smuggling gang

(From left to right clockwise) Tarik Namik, Soran Saliy, Hajar Ahmed, Habil Gider and Hardi Alizada. (NCA)

A car wash owner has been revealed as the leader of a “large scale” smuggling gang.

Tarik Namik – who ran a car wash in Stockport – led the organized crime group that was investigated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) in 2017.

The 45-year-old ran a sophisticated and lucrative criminal enterprise transporting Kurdish migrants from Iraq and Iran to the UK hidden in the back of lorries, the Manchester court heard.

On Friday, Namik, from Oldham, was jailed along with four other men for a total of almost 24 years after pleading guilty to offences.

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Tarik Namik (right) and Habil Gider.  (Photo: NCA)

Tarik Namik (right) and Habil Gider. (NCA)

Hajar Ahmed, 39, from Manchester, and Soran Saliy, 32, from Stoke, worked for Namik, who would help coordinate the UK side of the operation.

Habil Gider, 54, from Stoke, would act as an escort for some of the migrants once they are in the UK, while Hardi Alizada, 32, from Nottingham, would travel to Europe to coordinate from there .

The gang used conniving truck drivers, usually from Turkey, the court heard.

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Records found on Namik’s phone suggest he may have been involved in smuggling at least 1,900 migrants from the Balkans to France or Germany over a 50-day period, charging around €1,800 (1,548 £) per migrant.

The group would then offer two separate ways to travel to the UK, which would incur additional costs.

The first, “accompanied” facilitation would see individual migrants picked up by conniving truck drivers in France or Belgium and hidden in their truck, sometimes in the air deflector above the taxi, then greeted by an escort – usually the taxi driver Gider – once they had arrived in Dover.

Gider would then lead them to their final destination.

Hajar Ahmed is seen in a car wash.  (NCA)

Hajar Ahmed is seen in a car wash. (NCA)

The other method would be to conceal larger groups of migrants in the back of a truck, also driven by a conniving transporter, to be released once the driver has safely cleared border controls.

Once there, the migrants would apply for asylum.

Gider was caught in the act making a trip in November 2017, after his car was stopped by the NCA driving north on the M26 in Kent.

An Iraqi Kurdish woman sat in the back – she had just arrived in a truck in Dover.

Namik’s operation was finally dismantled in April 2018, when he, Ahmed and Saliy were arrested by NCA agents.

Alizada was arrested in Nottingham in February 2019 and charged in connection with her role.

All five have admitted the charges against them in a series of previous hearings.

Namik did not appear in court for the sentencing hearing.

He was convicted in absentia and an arrest warrant has just been issued against him.

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