Four Polish lorry drivers were arrested yesterday after 68 migrants, including two pregnant women and 15 children, were discovered hiding at Harwich Port in Essex.
The drivers have been held on suspicion of smuggling the immigrants on board lorries “full of Polish washing machines” after travelling from the Netherlands on board the Stena Hollandica ferry.
Authorities found 35 Afghans, 22 Chinese, 10 Vietnamese and one Russian inside the lorries, the Home Office has said. Local MP Bernard Jenkin said it was “one of the biggest finds of clandestines coming into the UK in this fashion.”
Seven were taken to Colchester General Hospital after complaining of chest and abdominal pains, while the rest were taken into custody of UK Border Force officials.
The Times reports that the immigrants were fingerprinted and had their details checked against international terror watchlists. They were also checked to see if they had already been fingerprinted in a different EU state, in which case they could be sent back there.
None of the migrants has so far attempted to claim asylum.
The Home Office said: “We can confirm Border Force officers discovered 53 adults and 15 children during a proactive search of four lorries which had arrived at Harwich port from Holland on Thursday evening.
“Four Polish nationals, who were driving the vehicles, have been arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration.
“They have been taken to separate police stations and will now be questioned by the Home Office’s criminal investigations team while inquiries continue.”