Six children were among nine illegal migrants found hiding in old tyres driven through the Channel Tunnel by a DJ from Leicestershire.
Kristopher Salt, of Barlestone, near Nuneaton, was stopped by Border Force officers in a van on the French side of the Channel Tunnel.
The 27-year-old was found guilty of assisting unlawful immigration into the UK this week and jailed for four and a half years.
Six children were among the group of nine people in a van which a British man tried to drive through the Channel Tunnel
Officers questioned him and he told them he had hired the van to go to Brussels and buy second hand tyres which he intended to re-sell in the UK.
Salt was ordered to open the back of the van and, hidden in a small space among the stacks of tyres, found nine people.
The group was made up of three adults and six children, including a one year-old, comprising two family groups.
The illegal migrants, who said they were from Iraq, were passed to the French authorities.
Kristopher Salt has been a jailed for trying to smuggle illegal immigrants from the Channel Tunnel in the back of his van
Salt was arrested at the Channel Tunnel on May 13, 2016 and the case passed to Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigation officers.
During subsequent questioning Salt claimed he was a self-employed DJ but the income wasn’t regular and he had heard that buying and importing tyres then re-selling in the UK was a good investment.
He also maintained he had been unaware of the migrants hidden in the van.
But a text message on Salt’s mobile phone received from an unknown third party indicated that he was an active participant in the attempt to breach the UK’s immigration controls and that he was being paid for his involvement.
Salt was subsequently charged with assisting unlawful immigration into the UK and was found guilty by a jury at Canterbury Crown Court in Kent on Wednesday and sentenced yesterday.
Paul Morgan, Director of Border Force South East and Europe said: ‘Salt was happy to subject people, including small children, to the dangers associated with being transported in such conditions.
‘Border Force officers will continue to work with law enforcement colleagues to ensure that people smugglers and traffickers, whose actions so often put the lives of others at risk, face the consequences of their crimes.’
The group were hidden among old tyres in the back of Salt’s van in May 2016
David Fairclough, CFI Assistant Director, said: ‘Salt’s claim that he was not aware of the migrants hidden in the van was implausible, especially when considered in conjunction with the mobile phone message.
‘I hope this case sends a clear message to anyone tempted to get involved with this kind of criminality – you will be caught and brought before the courts.
‘We work closely with Border Force colleagues to rigorously investigate allegations of immigration related criminality.’