UK-French Operation Stops People Smugglers

UK's NCA Halt Cross-Channel Migrant Smugglers

Yatch Moon, used in Rye attaempt. Credit: National Crime

A bi-national operation between France and the UK has dismantled a people-smuggling organisation.

A report published Thursday, July 13, told how an organised crime group used pleasure boats to smuggle illegal migrants across the channel.

UK And French Collaboration

A joint operation between the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and its French counterpart, led to an investigation into an organised crime group and has resulted in the imprisonment of a man in France.

Thanks to the collaboration between British and French authorities they were able to link the group to two separate vessels. One of the boats, named Moon, was involved in a smuggling run which saw 11 migrants brought ashore in Rye, East Sussex, in February 2022.

A 36-year-old Iraqi national was arrested by NCA officers in Barnet, north London, in connection with that particular incident. He was later released on bail pending further enquiries as the investigation continues.

During the investigation, a second yacht, the Lady Ann, was identified as being located in Belgium and travelled from there to Boulogne-sur-mer.

People Smuggler Arrested And Sentenced

On June 1, 2022, a 43-year-old Georgian national, Igor Romanovi, who skippered the vessel was arrested by French police while the boat was docked at Boulogne marina.

Romanovi was prosecuted for people smuggling offences and on June 26 June 2023, he was sentenced to four years in prison by a court in Dieppe. He has also been banned from French territory upon his release.

The regional manager for NCA International, Tom Outhwaite, commented: ‘Tackling people smuggling is a priority for the NCA and we are working closely with our partners in France, Belgium and beyond to target the organised criminals involved on both sides of the Channel.

‘Together we are determined to do all we can to disrupt and dismantle these exploitative networks. Our investigation into the UK side of this crime group continues.’

The NCA’s successful operation was supported by the authorities in France and Belgium, as well as Sussex Police, Border Force, Immigration Enforcement and the Crown Prosecution Service.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.