Two men from Hartlepool area in court to face people smuggling charges
Two men from the Hartlepool area accused of people smuggling have appeared in court for the first time since being arrested as part of a major investigation.
Six people charged as part of the National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation appeared at Newcastle Magistrates Court on Thursday, September 23.
They included Marek Sochanic, 27, of Leyburn Street, Hartlepool, and Mohammed Kheder Zada, 40, of Applecross Grove, Wynyard.
Sochanic faces one count of conspiring to facilitate a breach of immigration law and one of facilitating entry into the UK of an asylum seeker.
Zada is charged with five counts of conspiring to facilitate a breach of immigration law and five of facilitating entry into the UK of an asylum seeker.
They, together with four other men, are accused of being part of a Kurdish organised criminal network said to have used lorries to transport hundreds of Iraqi-Kurdish migrants from France, Belgium and the Netherlands into the UK.
It is said the migrants would be charged between £5,000 and £10,000 for that leg of the journey.
No pleas were entered in court to the charges, which can only be dealt with at a higher court.
Sochanic and Zada were granted conditional bail by the magistrates court and together with the other defendants are due to appear at Newcastle Crown Court on Thursday, October 21.
The other defendants, who face the same charges, come from Stockton, Thornaby, Ingleby Barwick, and Lambeth, in London.
They were arrested during a series of raids carried out by the NCA and policing partners in February 2018.