Almost 70 Albanians are arrested on board fishing boat to Britain as border chiefs smash massive people-trafficking ring
Nearly 70 illegal migrants were arrested in a dramatic operation as they were smuggled to Britain on a fishing boat.
It came as border chiefs smashed a massive people-trafficking ring that was ferrying the Albanians from Belgium to the UK.
Intelligence gathered by the National Crime Agency led to the trawler being intercepted in the North Sea off the Suffolk coast.
The vessel was boarded by officers from two UK Border Force cutters, HMC Searcher and HMC Vigilant, late on Tuesday.
周二晚些时候，两艘英国边境部队巡逻船HMC Searcher和HMC Vigilant的军官登上了这艘船。
They found 69 Albanian men and women hiding in the trawler's fish hold and arrested them on suspicion of unlawfully entering the UK.
Three crew members – a Latvian and two Ukrainians – were arrested on suspicion of facilitating unlawful immigration.
The 101ft vessel, the Svanic, was escorted to Harwich, Essex, in the early hours yesterday. It was believed to have been heading for Lowestoft in Suffolk, a main trawler port, after leaving Ostend in Belgium earlier.
'The ship is being pulled apart. These people are going to have a huge amount of information about people smuggling gangs,' a Home Office source said.
'The arrested individuals will be assessed to see if any of them can be sent back. A full criminal investigation will now take place.'
More than 250 officials from five different agencies took part in the operation.
A helicopter from Essex Police and Coastguard aircraft provided aerial support.
The arrests will be a welcome piece of good news for Home Secretary Priti Patel, who is under pressure to secure a new deal with France to tackle migrant crossings in small boats.
People traffickers operating in northern France charge each passenger thousands of pounds.
Five members of a Kurdish-Iranian family drowned off the French coast last month when their boat capsized.
Miss Patel said last night: 'Yesterday's operation was a big win for our intelligence and law enforcement agencies who have halted a serious illegal enterprise and cut off a source of funding for an organised criminal gang.
'We are returning migrants who have no right to stay in the UK to safe countries with flights every week and will do whatever we can to make this route unviable.'
The Home Office's clandestine Channel threat commander Dan O'Mahoney said: 'UK law enforcement agencies worked together at pace to crack a serious and sophisticated criminal operation.
'Thanks to the co-ordinated work between our partners at home and abroad, we were able to quickly secure the vessel and a criminal investigation is now underway.'
NCA deputy director of investigations Craig Naylor described the incident as a 'significant attempt to breach the UK's border controls'.
He added: 'Our investigation into this attempt continues and I'd like to thank our partners at Essex Police, Border Force and Immigration Enforcement for all they did and their ongoing work in support of our investigation.
'We are determined to do all we can to disrupt and dismantle people smuggling networks, and prevent them from exploiting migrants for profit.
'Our aim is to target those who cause harm, safeguard those who are most vulnerable while securing the UK's borders.'