National Crime Agency
International operation sees network of small boat people smugglers dismantled in France
18 people arrested with suspected links to an organised crime group involved in the supply of boats which could each carry between 40 and 60 people from France to the UK.
National Crime Agency officers have been involved in an international operation which has seen the dismantling of an organised crime group involved in the smuggling of people from France to the UK in small boats.
The operation saw 18 people arrested by OCRIEST, the French border police unit targeting immigration crime with assistance of additional French border policing partners, in the Calais, Le Havre and Paris regions of France. Over 100,000 euros were also seized in cash and bank accounts.
The organised crime group were involved in the supply of boats which would each be able to carry between 40 and 60 people.
The network would then arrange departures from the shore of northern France, recruiting migrants in the various camps there. They would each be charged around six thousand euros for the journey to the UK, which some of those arrested would then seek to launder.
NCA intelligence and international network officers worked with colleagues in OCRIEST and other international partners to target and identify those who were arrested.
Those held in the operation included nationals of Iraq, Pakistan, Romania and Vietnam, and they will all now be subject to French judicial proceedings.
NCA Deputy Director Andrea Wilson recently said:
“We look to target and disrupt organised crime groups involved in people smuggling at every step of the route.
“Much of this criminality lies outside the UK, so we have built up our intelligence sharing effort with law enforcement partners in France and beyond.
“This includes having NCA officers based in those countries, sharing intelligence and working side by side on joint investigations.
“This approach is bringing operational results in the form of arrests and prosecutions, as we have seen with this particular case.
“Much of this work is necessarily covert, but we know it is having an impact.
“We are continuing to look at ways to disrupt the supply of vessels to people smuggling OCGs, and target those who knowingly do so.
“Earlier this year we issued an alert to the UK maritime industry to raise awareness, and we are working with partners in the EU to do similar there.”
The NCA has a team of liaison officers based in France working on investigative activity with French partners both as part of Project INVIGOR, the UK’s organised immigration crime taskforce, but also on wider threats that require Anglo-French law enforcement co-operation.
This means NCA officers on the ground in France, not just exchanging intelligence but working with the French police to collaborate on both proactive and reactive investigations, including those with a particular focus on small boats threat.
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