Arman Yusuf Rahmani carried out the operation between 2018 and 2019 (Image: Home Office)

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A man caught trying to smuggle people into the UK stuffed inside sofas from France and Belgium has been jailed.

People smuggler Arman Yusuf Rahmani, who was once granted asylum in this country after entering in the back of a lorry, was caught trying to get people into the UK.

The Iranian national, 21, arranged for people to be hidden in the base of sofas before being transported overseas using oblivious 'man with van' drivers.

Preston Crown Court heard that Rahmani hired six different drivers advertising their services on social media between 2018 and 2019.

He agreed for them to drive from the UK to France or Belgium to collect and transport second-hand furniture.

The van drivers didn't know the real cargo they were transporting
(Image: Home Office)

The drivers did not know people were hidden inside the items they had been paid to transport and were instructed not to help with loading the vehicles.

Upon arrival at the UK border in France, Border Force officers searched the vans and soon found the people hiding inside.

All said they were Iraqi males, under 18 years old.

Video footage and photographs later taken of the hiding spots showed that any plea for help from those in the back of the van would not have been heard.

Rahmani was said to have had no regard for the welfare of the people he was paid to hide.

Rahmani had once been granted asylum in the UK
(Image: Home Office)

A minister said Rahmani had a 'blatant disregard' for the law
(Image: Home Office)

He was arrested a short time later and pleaded guilty to breaking UK immigration law. He has now been jailed for two years and seven months.

The court heard he had established a criminal network to facilitate foreign nationals illegally entering the UK.

Speaking after the sentencing, Minister for Immigration Compliance & Justice, Chris Philip, said: "Rahmani showed a blatant disregard for the laws of the UK, a country which provided him with safety and a place to live for which he has rightly paid the price.

"This case shows the lengths criminals will go to profit from our broken asylum system by putting people's lives at risk.

Arman Yusuf Rahmani could be deported after his sentence
(Image: Home Office)

"We are aiming to step up prosecution of those smuggling people into the country which is why this government is bringing legislation through our New Plan for Immigration, breaking the business model of these heinous people-smuggling networks and save lives."

Katie Brown, a Criminal and Financial Investigations investigator added: "Today's sentence is the result of an excellent investigation which brought to an end Rahmani's pattern of criminality.

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"People smugglers are motivated by money alone and show no regard for the safety of those they exploit.

"This case is a message that we never stop looking for those involved in immigration crime.

Rahmani will be eligible for deportation as a Foreign National Offender after his sentence.