Banbury woman who was a 'fixer' for people smugglers bringing Albanians illegally into Britain is jailed

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A Banbury woman has been jailed for acting as a 'fixer' for people-smugglers bringing Albanians illegally into Britain across the channel in small boats.

Ujeza Kurmekaj, 32, has been jalied for more than seven years. She facilitated crossings for Albanian nationals, including children, who risked their lives to reach the UK illegally.

She sent instructions to criminals in France on who they should pick up, with messages including “family one 3 women, children 14, 17, 12 years old.”

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Another text read: “We have here one family, man wife one child” while another message chillingly stated: “Very bad sea.”

Ujeza Kurmekaj, 32, facilitated crossings for Albanian nationals, including children, who risked their lives to reach the UK illegallyUjeza Kurmekaj, 32, facilitated crossings for Albanian nationals, including children, who risked their lives to reach the UK illegally
Ujeza Kurmekaj, 32, facilitated crossings for Albanian nationals, including children, who risked their lives to reach the UK illegally

Kurmekaj was finally caught following an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) who revealed she was a key broker for people smugglers.

Dramatic footage shows the moment she was arrested during an early morning raid at her home in Banbury last October.

Investigators found hundreds of messages on her phone which showed her playing a key role linking people smugglers with passengers.

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Other messages indicated conditions, including “very bad sea” and map location pins instructing where to pick migrants up or where boats were positioned in the Channel.

Ujeza Kurmekaj, 32, being arrested by NCA officialsUjeza Kurmekaj, 32, being arrested by NCA officials
Ujeza Kurmekaj, 32, being arrested by NCA officials

Further conversations showed individuals making contact with her to arrange crossings for their families.

Kurmekaj’s device also contained 21 images of Albanian ID cards and passports which, when checked on immigration systems, showed that nine of the individuals had arrived in the UK by small boat.

She admitted facilitating illegal immigration at an earlier hearing and was jailed for seven-and-a-half years at Oxford Crown Court.

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She was sentenced on Friday, November 17 and was told she would be automatically deported at the end of her jail term.

Investigators found hundreds of messages on Ujeza Kurmekaj's phone which showed her playing a key role linking people smugglers with passengersInvestigators found hundreds of messages on Ujeza Kurmekaj's phone which showed her playing a key role linking people smugglers with passengers
Investigators found hundreds of messages on Ujeza Kurmekaj's phone which showed her playing a key role linking people smugglers with passengers

Andy MacGill, NCA senior investigating officer, said: “Ujeza Kurmekaj played a major role as a broker, linking migrants with people smugglers who could transport them on dangerous journeys across the Channel.

“For this, she would arrange payments of hundreds of euros per person.

“Kurmekaj had little interest in the safety and security of the people she was arranging crossings for, only that she and her employers received payment.

“Disrupting and dismantling organised crime groups responsible for people smuggling is a priority for the NCA and we’ll continue to target offenders involved at every step of the journey.”