UK Arrests 4 in Major NCA Albanian Smuggling Network Investigation
In an ongoing investigation by the British National Crime Agency (NCA), four more individuals have been arrested in connection to a human smuggling ring that brought hundreds of Albanians into the U.K.
According to Wednesday’s press release, the four suspects — two women and two men — are charged with facilitating illegal immigration. Three were released but remain under investigation, while one was bailed pending further enquiries.
“This is a second phase of arrests made as part of this investigation,” said NCA Branch Commander Richard Harrison. Prior to the recent arrests, all four suspects were brought in last week for questioning by NCA, but were released shortly.
The first round of arrests was back in July 2021, in which seven individuals were arrested under the same investigation. Six men between 26 and 44 years of age, and a 26 year old woman were suspected of consipracy to facilitate illegal immigration, money laundering, and possession of false identification.
Based on current evidence, the smuggling network employs lorry drivers and hires vans to smuggle migrants into the U.K. from the northern region of France.
For this service, migrants would pay upwards of 25,000 pounds (US$34,000) to be smuggled into Britain, according to the NCA.
The human smuggling ring is rumored to have connections across Europe, including affiliates in Germany, Poland, and the Netherlands. In a campaign initiated by CrimeStoppers U.K., long-distance lorry drivers are warned about how human smugglers can load migrants on the lorries without the drivers even knowing.
The smuggling of Albanian migrants into the U.K. has seen a surge within the past year. A few months ago, a U.K. court sentenced a London-based crime group a total of 35 years for attempting to illegally bring in 69 Albanian migrants using a discontinued fishing vessel.
A seized laptop discovered a plot to smuggle 50 people every week, as well as a larger criminal network with individuals based out of Latvia and Lithuania.
NCA is currently investigating more than 50 cases of migrant smuggling through various organized crime networks across continental Europe.