Eighteen arrested in international people smuggling investigation

Europol arrests band of people traffickers

In collaboration with Europol, UK, French and German law enforcement  authorities today arrested 18 people suspected of being part of an  organised  illegal immigration network.

In this operation,  Europol, Eurojust, UK Home Office Immigration Enforcement officers, Kent  Police, the Serious Organised Crime Agency  (SOCA), Paris Police in  France and the Federal Police in Germany joined  forces against the  criminal network who were involved in illegally  transporting South Asian  immigrants into the UK.

At around 5am this morning  simultaneous raids  were made involving around 120 immigration and police  officers alone in  the UK.

The criminal network has predominantly assisted Sri  Lankan irregular  migrants’ attempts to reach the UK by smuggling them  mainly in vehicles  through Germany and the French Channel ports. Some  would also travel from  the UK onwards to North America using falsified  documents. It is believed  the irregular migrants were charged around €5000 each to reach the  UK. During the joint operation, 11  suspects were arrested in the UK and 7 in  France.

All the people arrested,  except for one Dutch national, were of Sri  Lankan origin. Computers,  documents, a significant amount of cash and mobile  phones were seized  from a number of addresses and will now be examined.  Documents relating  to various bank accounts that were used to facilitate the  criminal  activity were also seized. During the common action day, Europol  deployed a mobile office to France  and the UK to support the operation  with on-the-spot intelligence analysis.  Moreover, an International  Coordination Centre was set up in the UK to  support and coordinate law  enforcement authorities in the countries where  the arrests took place.

Throughout the investigation, Europol and Eurojust  hosted several  operational meetings and Europol also provided tailored  analytical  support to the investigators.  

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