At approximately 6am on Thursday 25 June, officers from Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) team executed warrants at five addresses in Grimethorpe, Bradford and Wakefield. A 34-year-old Albanian man was arrested at an address in Bradford on suspicion of illegal entry to the UK and drugs offences and a 24-year-old Albanian man was arrested at an address in Wakefield on suspicion of illegal entry to the UK. Approximately £9,000 in cash and around 60 cannabis plants were also seized in the operation, along with other evidence.
Earlier in the day, as part of the same investigation, Belgian authorities arrested 10 people and seized a gun after searching 12 addresses mainly in the Liège region.
The arrests followed an incident on 4 December last year when 14 Albanian men were detained on suspicion of entering the UK illegally via a vessel that had docked in Southwold harbour. Immigration Enforcement Officers dealt with this incident and launched an investigation.
Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts Chris Philp said:
These arrests were made as part of an ongoing investigation into a suspected organised crime group involved in people smuggling. We believe that the arrests made today in the UK and Belgium will have significantly disrupted the group’s activities.
People smuggling is an abhorrent crime that treats migrants as human cargo to be profited from. Working with partners at home and abroad, we are determined to do all we can to dismantle the criminal networks involved in illegal immigration.
The Immigration Enforcement investigation, which is being supported by the National Crime Agency and Project Invigor, the UK’s organised immigration crime task force, continues. Today’s operation was supported by officers from West Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Police.