Four arrested in cross-Channel people smuggling investigation

Four people have been arrested as part of an investigation by the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) into an attempt to smuggle migrants into the UK via boat.

As part of an operation, which also involved National Crime Agency, Border Force and the French authorities, two British men and one Albanian national were arrested on a fishing vessel in Cherbourg as they prepared to leave the port in the early hours of Saturday morning (27/6).

Five migrants, believed to be Albanian, were also found on board.

The boat had left the Isle of Wight for France on Friday (26/6) at around 2am.

Shortly after the Cherbourg arrests UK officers moved in to arrest a 43-year-old man in the Isle of Wight on suspicion of conspiracy to facilitate illegal immigration and money laundering. He has been released on bail.

The three arrested in France remain in French custody.

“We have worked closely with our counterparts in France and wider UK Law Enforcement partners in order to stop those who attempt to facilitate illegal immigration.

In this particular case the intention of the organised crime group was to transport a group of illegal migrants into the UK on a small boat.

These criminals exploit vulnerable people in communities in order to make money without any considerations for their welfare.

SEROCU will continue to work jointly with the NCA, Border and authorities broad to catch these organised crime groups and protect those at risk from them.”

Detective Inspector Clair Trueman, from SEROCU

“These arrests were made as a result of co-operation between the NCA, SEROCU, Border Force and our French partners.

Working with them we are determined to do all we can to disrupt and dismantle criminal networks involved in immigration crime.

People smugglers treat migrants as a commodity to be profited from, and are content to put them in situations of extreme danger. That is why this type of crime is a priority for us.”

NCA branch operations manager Martin Matthews

“These are significant arrests and indicative of the successful work that Border Force is engaged in to tackle people smuggling. By using our maritime capability in support of the operation we were able to provide vital assistance that enabled the arrests to be made.

Working with our law enforcement partners at home and abroad, we are determined to bring those responsible for this kind of criminality to justice.”

Dennis Norman, Head of Operations for Border Force Maritime Command