A number of human traffickers will be jailed for a combined total of three years for attempting to smuggle Middle Eastern and African nationals into Cyprus through the Sovereign Base Areas, the British bases announced on Wednesday.
According to a press release, two men, both Syrian nationals, pleaded guilty at His Majesty’s Court Dhekelia for attempting to facilitate the illegal entry of two Congolese men.
The former were members of an organised crime group and were in Cyprus legally, it added.
The two men were also charged with being in possession of an offensive weapon, and had the vehicle they used seized.
They were handed prison sentences of 11 and 14 months respectively, whilst the two migrants were convicted to six weeks each.
The press release added that investigations also led to the identification and arrest of a Turkish Cypriot man from Famagusta who attempted to smuggle an Iraqi national across the Green Line.
The former pleaded guilty to charges of facilitation and was handed a 26-week prison sentence on July 11, while the latter will face the court on August 1.
Eastern SBA Customs and Immigration commanding officer Mark Hartley, said this was intended as a strong message to would-be traffickers.
“The sentences demonstrate that we will bring those that are involved in the appalling act of people smuggling to justice and our efforts will not diminish,” he said.
“The hard work from my specialist teams working determinedly, identify, detect and arrest members of organised crime networks and the people traffickers are now behind bars.”
The complexity of these cases should not be underestimated, he stressed, saying that specially trained officers work “day and night” to ensure nobody gets away with such crimes, “ensuring the most vulnerable are not putting their lives in the hands of the traffickers and the communities of Cyprus are safeguarded”.