LONDON – British authorities have arrested a Turkish truck driver for trying to smuggle people from England to France after discovering 16 people in the trailer of his vehicle.
The 36-year-old driver, who was not identified, was stopped at an intersection on the M25 motorway southwest of London, the National Crime Agency, on Sunday. said in a statement. The people discovered, including Algerian, Moroccan and Pakistani citizens, were also arrested on the grounds of immigration offenses.
Although there were no deaths, the case echoes a fatal episode of smuggling from 2019, when 39 people from Vietnam died in a cool tractor trailer in south-east England. Human trafficking is a huge and dangerous market, with people fleeing Africa and Asia from conflict and poverty, forced to pay thousands of dollars to smugglers in exchange for shaky promises of transportation across borders to Western Europe.
In a statement from the National Crime Agency, Chris Hill, a branch industry manager, said: “People smuggling networks are pulling migrants in both directions across the border, threatening the safety of both the UK and our European neighbors but also endangering lives. ”
The English Channel, which separates France and Britain, is one of the busiest shipping areas in the world and an important route for smugglers transporting migrants in Europe. In November, Britain and France agreed to double the number of officers patrols a 93-kilometer stretch of French coast that is reportedly used regularly by smugglers.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) urged national authorities to combat the smuggling rings, but also expressed concern over proposals to intercept boats in the English Channel, pointing out the use of vessels to block ‘small, thin vessels’ to harmful and can lead to fatal incidents. ”
While increasing numbers of people tried to cross the English Channel illegally by boat last summer, noted the UN agency in an information session in August that ‘the numbers remain low and manageable’, adding that many have undertaken the daring journeys to flee war and persecution. “Saving lives should be the first priority – both on land and at sea,” the agency said.
This month, Britain and France said it they collaborated on the dismantling of a gang suspected of buying second-hand boats that had been deflated and then buried on French beaches for later use to smuggle people across the English Channel. Each boat can carry 10 to 15 migrants, which is charged between 2,500 and 3,000 euros or $ 3,000 to $ 3,600 a day, the National Crime Agency said.
The British immigration authorities made 418 arrests and secured 203 convictions in 2019. said the Home Office, with about half of the convicts convicted of criminals of people.
Chris Philp, the British Minister for Immigration Compliance, said: “These dangerous crossings are facilitated by serious organized criminals who exploit people and take advantage of human misery.”