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People smuggler on the run for four years jailed

PUBLISHED: 16:12 06 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:12 06 August 2019

Sorin Popescu, 44, had been on the run for nearly four years. Picture: Home Office

Sorin Popescu, 44, had been on the run for nearly four years. Picture: Home Office

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A people smuggler who had been on the run for four years has been arrested in Hainault and jailed.

Romanian national Sorin Popescu, 44, helped an Albanian man enter the UK using an identity document of another individual.

He was originally arrested on October 4, 2013, by Border Force officers at Dover Eastern Dock after the Albanian man admitted his true identity and was deported.

A woman, Sorina Anichiti, was also stopped by Border Force officers in connection with the incident in 2013 and a search of her car uncovered the Albanian passport of the imposter - she was also arrested.

The case was referred to Criminal and Financial Investigations and Popescu and Anichiti were charged with assisting illegal immigration. But after the trial had started in May 2015, Popescu failed to attend court and a warrant for his arrest was issued.

On August 7, 2015, Popescu was found guilty and he received a 14 month jail term, handed down in his absence.

Anichiti was sentenced to ten months in jail.

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After he absconded, Popescu attempted to avoid justice by moving address, changing his name and established links to several addresses in different identities.

However, officers from CFI's Fugitive Unit traced him and assisted by officers from the Met Police, arrested him at his home address in Forest Road, Hainault on July 30.

Following his arrest, he appeared at Canterbury Crown Court, on Wednesday, July 31 and was handed an additional six months jail term for failing to answer bail.

Deputy director Dave Magrath from CFI said: "Popescu was clearly living with one eye over his shoulder.

"He had gone to some lengths to evade detection and had created quite a sophisticated network of different identities in an effort to remain underground.

"He purposefully linked these newly-created identities to properties other than his real home address, wrongly believing that this would enable him to avoid arrest.

"However, my officers were determined to see justice served. It is thanks to their persistence and skilled detection work that he was arrested and is now behind bars."

Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously or visit crimestoppers-uk.org.

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