24 Sep News story: Twenty three arrests made in people smuggling investigations
Twenty three arrests have been made around the UK as part of a series of ongoing investigations into suspected people smuggling into the UK.
The arrests, made between Wednesday 11 and Saturday 21 September, include 11 individuals who are suspected of facilitating illegal crossings of the Channel in small boats.
The arrest operations were conducted by officers from Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigations (CFI) teams and the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Steve Dann, Director of Criminal and Financial Investigations, said:
The organised crime groups behind the illegal attempts to cross the border, either by land or sea, are putting the lives of vulnerable people in serious danger for their own financial gain.
We are determined to put a stop to this illegal activity and disrupting the ruthless criminals who facilitate it is key. That is why the arrests made in recent days are so significant.
Steve Reynolds, head of Organised Immigration Crime operations for the NCA, said:
As these operations demonstrate, the NCA is working closely with law enforcement partners in the UK and France to disrupt people smuggling networks, protect the security of the UK border and prevent loss of life. Attempts to cross the Channel have also been thwarted on the French side as a result of intelligence sharing.
Last Monday (16 September), Immigration Enforcement officers arrested a 49 year old Iraqi man at an address in Holwell, Hertfordshire, and a 60 year old British man at an address in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire.
Both men were arrested on suspicion of facilitating a breach of the UK’s immigration rules in relation to a small boat incident on 31 August 2019.
On Thursday (19 September) officers arrested a 33 year old British man at an address in Middle Rasen, Lincolnshire. He was arrested on suspicion of facilitating a breach of the UK’s immigration rules in relation to a small boat incident on 11 December 2018.
On Saturday (21 September) officers arrested a 35 year old Iranian man at an address in Cardiff. He was arrested on suspicion of facilitating a breach of the UK’s immigration rules in relation to a small boat incident on 31 August 2019.
All 4 men have been released under investigation.
The NCA has made 7 arrests related to small boat activity between Wednesday 11 September and Friday 20 September, bringing the total number of arrests of individuals suspected of involvement in people smuggling across the Channel to 11.
In addition, CFI officers arrested twelve suspected people smugglers at the UK’s juxtaposed controls in northern France between Monday 16 September and Friday 20 September, as a result of intelligence from Border Force. These individuals were arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry into the UK in motor vehicles.
The investigations will now continue with the evidence gathered during these operations.
The UK continues to work closely at all levels with the French authorities to tackle illegal small boat crossings. Border Force cutters are patrolling the Channel and equipment including CCTV and night goggles have been deployed on the French coast.
Last month the Home Secretary and her French counterpart agreed to intensify joint action to tackle small boat crossings in the Channel. This includes drawing up an enhanced action plan to deploy more resources along the French coast to intercept and stop crossings.
Since January, more than 80 people who entered the UK illegally on small boats have been returned to Europe.
Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously.
Further details on the NCA arrests.
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