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Suspected people smugglers arrested

Two men accused of being part of a people smuggling network responsible for smuggling up to 20 migrants a night into the UK have been arrested as part of an operation co-ordinated by the National Crime Agency.

The men, aged 33 and 37 and both Iraqi nationals, were detained on European Arrest Warrants at separate addresses in Eccles, Salford and Bordesley Green, Birmingham yesterday (Thursday 7 January).

Officers from Greater Manchester and West Midlands Police supported the operations.

The pair are wanted by the authorities in Belgium and are now expected to appear before Westminster Magistrates Court tomorrow where extradition proceedings will began. 

The arrests follow a joint operation involving the NCA and Belgian Federal Police, looking into a Kurdish criminal network suspected of smuggling people into the UK in lorries.

The migrants, including Iraqis, Iranians, Afghans, Indians, Pakistanis and Albanians, would be loaded into trucks at motorway service stations in Belgium before attempting to cross the Channel. 

The two arrested in the UK are accused of being in direct contact with other members of the network and collecting fees from migrants successfully smuggled into the country.

Ten people have already been arrested in Belgium and await trial there.

Colin Williams, NCA branch operations manager, said:

“We believe this crime group is involved in attempting to smuggle people into the UK on an almost daily basis, and our co-operation with the Belgian authorities on this investigation continues. 

“With our international partners we will continue to disrupt criminals involved in organised immigration crime, making it harder for them to operate across the UK border and abroad.”


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