Police smash Northern Ireland people smuggling ring

Authorities have carried out a major operation targeting a suspected people smuggling ring in Northern Ireland

Published

Around 50 officers from the Government’s Immigration Enforcement unit and the Police Service of Northern Ireland carried out warrants at two properties in Belfast.

A 40-year-old woman and a 26-year-old man were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to assist the unlawful immigration of people into the UK through the Common Travel Area in the Irish Republic.

The woman was also arrested on suspicion of possession of criminal property.

Authorities have carried out a major operation targeting a suspected people smuggling ring in Northern Ireland
Authorities have carried out a major operation targeting a suspected people smuggling ring in Northern Ireland
The British and Irish governments worked together
The British and Irish governments worked together

The raids follow a significant investigation by the Home Office’s Criminal and Financial Investigations team, which saw two others arrested in an earlier operation.

The British and Irish governments have been working through the Cross Border Joint Agency Taskforce, to disrupt organised crime groups involved in people smuggling and modern slavery.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “This operation shows yet again our expertly trained officers working tirelessly to keep our country safe by disrupting suspected criminal activity.

“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.”

Two people were taken into custody for questioning in Belfast
Two people were taken into custody for questioning in Belfast

The two people arrested have been taken into custody for questioning at Musgrove police station in Belfast.

Ben Thomas, the Deputy Director of Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal Investigations division 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.”