18 arrested in international people smuggling investigation

22 May 2013
Press Release
Press Release/News
The Hague, the Netherlands

With the support of Europol, UK, French and German law enforcement authorities today arrested 18 people suspected of being part of an organised illegal immigration network.

For 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 EUR 5000 each to reach the UK.

During the joint operation, 11 suspects were arrested in the UK and 7 in France. All persons arrested, except from 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.