A FATHER and son smuggling team who attempted to escape justice have been jailed for three years each.

Sergej Isaak, 49, and his son Erick, 26, were arrested by Border Force officers at the Port of Harwich in November 2015, after seven Afghan nationals were found hidden in their van.

The seven people – four men and three women – were spotted when the vehicle, which had arrived on a ferry from the Hook of Holland, was subjected to an x-ray scan.

They had been hidden in a section of the van nearest the cab, concealed by a load of insulation boards.

Sergej had been driving the van, with Erick as a front seat passenger.

The pair were interviewed under caution and Sergej told officers he had advertised he had a van and was looking for delivery work via the internet.

He said he had been recruited by a man known only as “Frank” to deliver the insulation boards to a company in the UK.

Erick had accompanied him on the visit because he speaks some English and had never visited the UK.

With insufficient evidence to secure a charge, bail was granted and both men returned to Germany where they lived.

Further enquiries identified the company listed as the delivery address knew nothing of the Isaaks’ shipment.

An informant in Germany also came forward to say Sergej and Erick were knowingly involved in the Harwich people smuggling attempt.

In December 2017 they were both charged with facilitating illegal entry of a non-EU national into the UK.

Neither complied with their bail conditions and officers issued European Arrest Warrants.

Erick was arrested by the German authorities in August last year and Sergej was detained in September.

Both men were extradited to the UK. They were jailed at Ipswich Crown Court for three years.

Jenny Sharp, Border Force Assistant Director at Harwich, said: “It was clear from the examination the seven people had boarded the van and the insulation had then been packed around them.

"The Afghan nationals could not, therefore, have managed this alone. They must have had help, the only question was who from.”

Criminal and Financial Investigation officer Adam Hutton added: “It has been a long road from the initial detection to conviction and the Isaaks may have thought they had avoided justice. However, law enforcement’s reach is wide and ultimately there is no hiding place.

“This father and son team viewed the people they were smuggling as a commodity. Their interest in them was purely financial, with no concern about their welfare.

“Working alongside partners including Border Force we will continue to crack down on callous criminals like the Isaaks whose false promises and lies deliberately put people in danger.”