Albanian People Smuggling Gang ‘Ringleaders’ Arrested in England

TOPSHOT - A British police officer stands guard on the beach of Dungeness, on the southeas
BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

The alleged ringleaders of an Albanian people smuggling gang bringing illegal migrants to the UK in small boats were arrested on Monday.

Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) — the rough equivalent to the FBI in the United States — announced on Monday that it has arrested three members of an “Albanian organised crime group” that charges between £2,500 and £7,500 to help illegal migrants break into the UK, mostly by crossing from the beaches of France in small boats.

Two 34-year-old men, alleged to be the ringleaders of the operation, described only as being from Grays and Dagenham were arrested on Monday.

The NCA said that they believe the group helped “numerous migrants” enter the country illegally, including an instance last August in which a small boat carried 46 migrants from the French coast across the Channel.

The crime agency noted that those on board were “predominantly Albanian nationals”, including a convicted rapist who had been previously deported from the UK and has now been deported again.

A further three instances allegedly perpetrated by the Albanian group involved migrants being smuggled in the back of a lorry between October and November of last year.

The lorry driver, a 55-year-old man from Belgium, was arrested in Folkestone on Monday. All three suspects remain in custody.

Chris Farrimond, Director of Threat Leadership at the NCA, said: “We have dismantled a suspected organised crime group behind a number of dangerous migrant crossings last year.

“People smugglers do not care about the safety of those they transport, they seek to exploit them for profit.

“Tackling organised immigration crime is a priority for the NCA and we have more than 90 ongoing investigations into networks based here and overseas causing the highest harm. As we target callous organised criminal gangs, we will not hesitate to also pursue HGV drivers complicit in helping them.”

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