A people smuggler has been jailed for his involvement in the deaths of 39 migrants found in a truck trailer.
Marius Mihai Draghici, 50, fled the country in 2019 after the Vietnamese victims were discovered in Purfleet, Essex.
Last month he pleaded guilty to 39 counts of involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy to assist illegal immigration at the Old Bailey.
In a televised sentencing hearing on Tuesday at the Old Bailey, Judge Garnham Draghici was sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison.
He told the accused he was an “essential cog” in a conspiracy that made “amazing profits from the exploitation of people desperate for Britain”.
He said the conditions inside the trailer where the victims died were “unspeakable” as “people were trapped in the trailer, had no ventilation and had no way of getting out”.
The chief judge acknowledged the “pathetic audio recordings” of those trapped inside, “reporting that they could not breathe and the growing realization that they would die there” and the “heartbreaking” testimonies of their loved ones.
Four other gang members were sentenced to between 13 and 27 years in prison in 2021 for the negligent killing of the 39 migrants.
The victims – aged between 15 and 44 – had hoped for a better life in Britain when they agreed to pay up to £13,000 a head for a ‘VIP’ smuggling service.