A man and a woman were apprehended in Northern Ireland as part of an operation targeting an alleged people-smuggling ring.
Around 50 officers from the UK government’s Immigration Enforcement team and the Police Service of Northern Ireland raided two residences in Belfast, arresting a 40-year-old lady and a 26-year-old male.
Both were characterised as naturalised British citizens when they were detained on suspicion of conspiracy to aid illegal immigration of non-UK nationals. The lady was also detained on suspicion of criminal property possession. They were arrested and escorted to Musgrave Police Station for interrogation.
An inquiry by the Home Office’s Criminal and Financial Investigations Unit led the operation. In conjunction with this inquiry, two individuals have already been detained.
Through the Cross Border Joint Agency Taskforce, the British and Irish governments are collaborating to disrupt organised criminal organisations and combat organised immigration crime, modern slavery, and human trafficking.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “By working hand-in-hand with our Irish partners, we will continue to stop those who seek to abuse the Common Travel Area to enter the UK.
“People smugglers put lives in extreme danger and I hope these arrests act as a stark warning to criminal gangs that they will feel the full force of our tougher laws. Through our New Plan for Immigration, we can truly break their business model and suitably punish them for their callous crimes.”
Ben Thomas, deputy director for Immigration Enforcement criminal and financial investigations, said: “Today’s operation is just one of the ways we are working with our policing partners to take action against those who are attempting to bring people illegally into the country hidden in vehicles.
“We are committed to dismantling people-smuggling networks and hope these arrests send a clear message to those involved in this type of criminality that we will stop at nothing to bring you to justice.
“We will continue to work closely with law enforcement colleagues to save lives and ensure that people smugglers and traffickers face the consequences of their despicable crimes.” Source