From: Exit Staff
Convictions for Couple Trafficking Albanians to UK Under Guise of Charity

An Albanian man and woman resident in the UK have been sentenced for setting up a fake charity and using it to traffic immigrants to work in cannabis farms, according to reports in the British media.

Pranvera Smith and Flamur Daka fraudulently secured a GBP 100,000 Lottery Fund grant to set up a bogus charity called Freedom to Stay. They then charged desperate immigrants around GBP 1000 each which they said was to secure benefits and housing, as well as filing asylum applications. These immigrants would have already paid up to GBP 10,000 for passage from Albania to the UK.

The charity said it was a non-profit group that helped Albanian asylum seekers navigate the system upon arrival.

The authorities found that they were smuggling around 30 people a month into the country and made around GBP 130,000 from their activities.

During the investigation, it was discovered that they had kept the grant they received and were making more money from desperate immigrants. Upon arrival, the immigrants ended up working below the legal minimum wage in car washes or being forced to work on cannabis farms.

The pair had been trafficking people from Albania in trucks via Ghent.

Authorities said that in the first months of 2020, the pair trafficked more than 130 victims.

Daka and Smith were arrested and charged with conspiracy to breach UK immigration law. Smith was also charged with fraud and supplying cannabis. Daka was also charged with supplying cocaine. They both received jail terms- five years and four months and four years respectively.

Smith gave herself the nickname “La Nonna”, a term with Albanian mafia connotations.