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Seven men in court after Albanian national found hidden in van

PUBLISHED: 16:31 24 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:03 24 July 2020

Five of the men have been charged with immigration offences  Picture: ARCHANT

Five of the men have been charged with immigration offences Picture: ARCHANT

A group of men have appeared in court charged with cannabis production and supply, as well as immigration offences relating to the alleged smuggling of a non-EU citizen in a Ford Transit van travelling from France.

Five men from Suffolk, one from Norfolk and one of Birmingham have been charged with offences linked to an investigation by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU).

They were arrested and charged following warrants in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Gorleston-on-Sea, in Norfolk, and Birmingham.

A plea and trial preparation hearing was held at Ipswich Crown Court on Friday.

Gazmend Daci, 33, of Wherstead Road, Ipswich, and Fatjon Sulmataj, 35, of Manor Road, Birmingham, are jointly charged with conspiracy to produce cannabis between March 5 last year and March 17 this year, conspiracy to supply cannabis between the same dates, and with soliciting unlawful immigration between October 14 and 17 last year by arranging for an Albanian national to be transported in the back of a van on a P&O ferry to Dover.

Daci entered not guilty pleas to all offences, while Sulmataj is expected to formally enter pleas at a subsequent hearing.

Both men were remanded in custody by Judge David Pugh.

Jurgen Nikoci, 23, of Church Road, Gorleston-on-Sea, and Myles Davies, 37, of Henley Road, Ipswich, have been jointly charged with conspiracy to produce cannabis between March 5 last year and March 17 this year.

Both men denied the charge, with Nikoci also entering a not guilty plea to possession of an identity document with an improper intention namely a document containing his photograph but in the name of someone else – on June 9 this year.

Davies was released on unconditional bail and Nikoci was remanded in custody.

John Lockwood, 30, of Trimley St Martin, and Richard Halls, 37, of St Andrews Place, Melton, have been jointly charged with assisting in unlawful immigration between October 14 and 17.

Both deny the offence and were released on unconditional bail.

Elliott Thompson, 28, of Ipswich Road, Stowmarket, charged with the same offence, was released on unconditional bail, with his case listed for mention on the same day as a further case management hearing on October 16, when a trial date will be confirmed.


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