British police arrest suspected ‘high ranking’ people smuggler

Man allegedly played key role in bringing people into the UK hidden in lorries

Officers from the National Crime Agency arrest an alleged people smuggler in a dawn raid. Photo: NCA
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An alleged people smuggler who played a key role in bringing people into the UK in the back of lorries has been arrested.

Officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) detained the man who is believed to be part of a high ranking Vietnamese people-smuggling network.

The 23-year-old Vietnamese citizen was arrested in a dawn raid in the West Midlands city of Birmingham on Monday.

He was detained by NCA officers as he attempted to exit through a window of his building and on to a flat roof below.

An estimated $13,870 (£10,000) cash was also recovered from the property.

The arrest is the latest phase of an investigation into the smuggling of mainly Vietnamese migrants into the UK in the backs of lorries in August and September 2020.

The man is now being questioned on suspicion of assisting illegal immigration to the UK and money laundering offences.

NCA Branch Operations Manager Paul Boniface said those responsible were putting lives at risk.

“We are determined to disrupt and dismantle people smuggling networks wherever they are operating," he said.

“These groups treat people as a commodity to be profited from and are quite happy to put lives at risk in dangerous journeys in the back of trucks or in small boats.

“Protecting life and preventing exploitation are our priorities, and this investigation continues.”

The NCA leads the law enforcement response to the organised criminality involved in the trafficking and smuggling of people.

The agency investigates the highest harm criminal networks, and currently has about 50 ongoing investigations into networks or people in the top tier of organised immigration crime and human trafficking.

Updated: September 14, 2021, 1:58 PM