4 March 2015
Two men wanted by the Belgian authorities in connection with a suspected people smuggling network have been arrested by the National Crime Agency.
The men, aged 25 and 28 and both of Syrian origin, were detained at addresses in Wembley, north London and Sparkbrook, Birmingham yesterday morning (Tuesday 3 March).
They later appeared before Westminster Magistrates Court where extradition proceedings began. They were remanded into custody until their full extradition hearing on 18 June.
The arrests follow a joint operation involving the NCA and Belgian Federal Police, looking into a network believed to have smuggled up to 200 individuals into the UK in lorries through the Channel ports.
The migrants, mainly Syrians, Iraqis and Albanians, would be loaded on to lorries at motorway service stations and lay-bys in Belgium before attempting to cross to the UK. They would be charged up to £5,000 if they were successful.
In January 2015 police in Belgium arrested 11 individuals suspected of being involved in the same network. Seventeen migrants were also detained.
Adam Warnock, senior investigating officer for the NCA, 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.”