An unshaven young man leans back on his bed, puffing at a vape stick as he films himself jauntily talking to a friend on a mobile phone.
During the 20-minute chat, littered with swear words in English and Albanian, he says he hates Britain, loathes our police and wonders if he can give up his expensive addiction to playing poker.
Audaciously, convicted burglar Aleks Vishaj recorded himself on his secret phone in a cell in London’s Wandsworth Prison last March while being held ahead of deportation home to Albania.
The illegally filmed footage was posted on his private social media account – and that should have been the last this country should have seen, or heard, of him.
Today, however, the Daily Mail can reveal that 32-year-old Vishaj has slipped back into Britain, making a mockery of the deportation system the Government has promised to tighten up.
Convicted burglar Aleks Vishaj recorded himself on his secret phone in a cell in London’s Wandsworth Prison last March while being held ahead of deportation home to Albania. He posted the illegally filmed footage onto his private social media account
Last year, Home Secretary Priti Patel signed a new deal with the Albanian government, which pledged to take back its criminal fraternity with no right to be in the UK.
One in seven foreign-born offenders in UK prisons are Albanians.
As Miss Patel said during a visit to the country’s capital, Tirana: ‘I want to speed up the removal of these dangerous inmates to protect the British people.’
The Nationality and Borders Bill, which is due to become law this year, contains powers designed to accelerate the deportation of foreign criminals ‘whenever possible’.
The disturbing case of Vishaj’s return is a grotesque symbol of a system that is being shockingly abused.
On New Year’s Eve, he posted a swaggering video of himself wearing his country’s national costume and celebrating at an east London bar with fellow Albanians as he sang loudly in his home language.
In November, another photo showed him in London surrounded by large red paper poppies placed on trees to mark Armistice commemorations.
The same month, he was pictured in an apartment overlooking the capital’s skyline as he lounged on a chair wearing a designer hoodie emblazoned with an image of film icon James Dean.
We were alerted to his illegal return to the UK by security sources in Albania and Britain.
He is thought to have used a fake passport to slip back, by plane or ferry, in September, after entering an EU country using a visa waiver which people in Albania (a non-EU country) can obtain to visit the EU.
Vishaj’s brazen behaviour is not unusual. We have found other Albanian criminals living openly in Britain despite being previously turfed out of this country.
One, Dorian Puka, is back despite two convictions in London for burglary, and after twice being repatriated by the Home Office.
Dorian Puka (pictured) is back in the UK despite two convictions in London for burglary, and after twice being repatriated by the Home Office
Last week, the 27-year-old posted a photo of himself smiling broadly with a friend in a London pub on social media. Other online images show him recently walking his bull terrier on a steel chain in the capital’s streets.
Four months ago, he was pictured outside the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square, seemingly unconcerned by the fact he has been barred from Britain.
Puka has a chequered past. Five years ago, he was jailed for nine months for attempting to break into a home in Twickenham, south-west London.
The property’s owner was in France on holiday but spotted him on a webcam and alerted neighbours who called the police.
Puka’s DNA linked him to another burglary in the capital a month before where he had dropped a glove.
At his court sentencing in 2016, the judge told him: ‘You have not been in this country for a long amount of time and are, according to your probation officer, an illegal immigrant.’
He called for Puka’s deportation, which happened in the November that year. But within 12 months, he’d sneaked back into Britain illegally and was living in Greenford, just a few miles from the scenes of his burglaries.
He was stopped in Surbiton, south-west London, when a plain-clothes police officer spotted him in a street wearing an expensive watch that he had stolen on the same day.
Back in court, Puka admitted taking the watch and a purse as he was jailed for three years.
Like his compatriot Vishaj, he too illegally used a mobile phone in prison to take photos of himself in his cell with a fellow inmate.
He posted them on social media, where his Albanian followers sent congratulatory messages. One called him a hero and hundreds posted thumbs-up emojis.
In March 2020, after serving his sentence, Puka was deported for a second time to Albania. But he stayed there only a few months before using the visa-waiver system to travel to Germany and then on to Belgium and Holland before returning – inevitably, of course, and illegally – to Britain in December 2020.
Last year, Home Secretary Priti Patel signed a new deal with the Albanian government, which pledged to take back its criminal fraternity with no right to be in the UK
Within days of slipping back, he was pictured on social media standing beside a smart white Porsche in Richmond, south-west London.
According to research by the Mail, he has been here ever since. Such blatant disregard of the immigration system presents a huge dilemma for Britain’s authorities.
Already, the number of deportations has dramatically declined. In the year of March 2020 to March 2021, there were just 2,420 ‘enforced returns’, down from a peak of more than 21,000 in 2004.
‘Christian tattoo’ reprieve
An Iranian sex offender delayed deportation by claiming he had converted to Christianity and had a tattoo of a cross.
The 42-year-old, who can only be identified as ‘MM’, arrived in the UK clandestinely in 2010. He was refused asylum and brought appeals, but in 2016 he was convicted of two sex assaults and jailed for over seven years.
MM was served with a deportation order but claimed his removal would breach his right to ‘private and family life’ as he had a partner and two sons here. When that failed he changed tack and claimed he would face torture or inhuman and degrading treatment in Iran because he had abandoned Islam for Christianity.
An immigration tribunal granted his appeal, but Home Secretary Priti Patel challenged the decision.
A ruling from the upper immigration tribunal said: ‘The appellant claimed to have a tattoo of a Christian cross.’ But it added: ‘There was no evidence of the claimed tattoo.’ The judge ordered a fresh hearing, which has yet to take place.
Albanians are a particular problem. Three decades after the collapse of the Stalinist dictatorship in Albania, 60 per cent of its adult population say they want to leave the country – blaming lack of jobs, corruption and poverty.
Many want to settle in Britain, where there are large communities of Albanians who make life look attractive via photos on social media.
Their apparently lavish lifestyles, with pricey cars and houses, is a great pull, say researchers at the respected Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN).
Unable to travel to Britain without a stiffly regulated UK visa, many Albanians – according to the BIRN – employ well-known illegal routes such as crossing the English Channel by boat or hidden in the back of lorries.
They also smuggle themselves on ferries from Bilbao in Spain to Portsmouth or by using fake identity documents on flights into the UK from Italy or Greece.
Sources say the numbers arriving illegally are so big that at Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow, 96 per cent of the hundreds there awaiting deportation by the Home Office are Albanian.
Armond Mucmata, an Albanian gangster accused of trafficking young men into the UK before putting them to work at Buckinghamshire car washes as slave labour, is typical.
The 28-year-old was due for release from prison two weeks ago after admitting to conspiracy to breach immigration laws as a key player in a criminal gang.
The judge who sentenced him has applied for his deportation to Albania as soon as possible.
Mucmata was found last September after a manhunt in Sweden, and brought back to serve his time.
He had fled there following a Thames Valley Police raid at a car wash in Milton Keynes in 2018 and was out of the UK for three years.
Detectives said Mucmata, who drives a top-of-the-range Mercedes, was so dangerous he should not be approached by the public.
Investigating officer DC Janey Holmes said: ‘Mucmata was clearly involved in an organised gang bringing people from non-EU countries to work here.’
No wonder, perhaps, that the judges want answers about the high number of Albanian criminals that are appearing in court, why they have not been deported and why they keep illegally returning here with seeming impunity.
Another egregious case is that of 41-year-old Lefter Hoxha.
Despite having been deported from the UK for drug-farming, he came back to this country on the back of a lorry to resume his life of crime.
Next, he was arrested and appeared at Durham Crown Court, where he was jailed for three years for growing cannabis plants with an estimated street value of £250,000.
He had tried to hide during a police raid on his home where he was using a sophisticated heating and water system across three bedrooms.
Vishaj pictured celebrating New Years with a friend, holding an Albanian flag, after slipping back into Britain following his deportation
Sentencing him, Judge Ray Singh asked how Hoxha had managed to return to Britain after having been deported and he called for police to liaise with the Home Office to investigate the case which had yet again exposed how dangerously porous the UK’s borders are.
The judge called for Hoxha’s removal, but added: ‘Frankly, I do not have confidence in the way the deportation system is working at the moment or that that will happen. I want an explanation [from the Government].’
Judge Singh had previously warned Albanians who had appeared before him on criminal charges that the streets of Durham and the North East of England are not paved with gold.
Poker player Aleks Vishaj may disagree – particularly considering the video of himself he took on his phone inside Wandsworth Prison.
At one stage, he tells his friend that he has to lower his voice because guards are passing his door. Then a Bulgarian inmate sharing his cell is seen in the video, sniggering at the camera.
Next, Vishaj shows an image to his phone of the roundabout where he was caught by police. ‘F*** them all!’ he says. ‘I came down and they were waiting for me.’
As a result of this arrest, he was removed from Britain at the request of Germany, where he was wanted for two previous house burglaries.
On his release from three months in jail there, he was deported to Albania with the support of the Home Office.
It was then he made his way back illegally to Britain. Clearly, from his provocative posts on social media, he reckons he’s beyond the rule of law and here to stay.
Sadly, as this country battles to get rid of foreign criminals, he – and many others like him – are quite right to think so.