European people-smuggling gangs are using garlic to confuse sniffer dogs as they attempt to sneak people into the UK.
The extraordinary ruse came to light at the ongoing trial of four Bulgarian men in England who are accused of people-trafficking.
When border officials in the port town of Dover in the south of England found nine illegal immigrants in the hidden compartment of a van, they found a large secret stash of garlic which they believe was being used specifically to distract sniffer dogs.
The men are accused of smuggling five Afghans – including three children – plus two Iraqis and two Iranians into the UK.
Prosecutor Hugh Forgan told Maidstone Crown Court that the smuggling trip had been just one of several made by the four Bulgarian men in the dock. He said that when the vehicles were stopped they appeared to be empty of any cargo. However, on closer inspection, each had been adapted to hide illegal immigrants.
“The concealments were found to be right at the rear of the van, with people jam-packed into the very small space,” he explained.
Forgan then said the garlic – which is apparently often used to put sniffer dogs off the scent – was found in the van floor.
The court heard that three other human-trafficking journeys were intercepted at Dover and Harwich in Essex.
Veselin Denkov, 43, Ivan Georgiev, 39, Iliyan Marinov, 45, and 55-year-old Georgi Stankov, who are of no fixed address in the UK, deny assisting unlawful immigration to an EU member state between May 1 and Aug 4 last year. The trial continues.