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Suspected immigrants rescued from dinghy

Nine suspected illegal immigrants had to be rescued when they became stranded on a small power boat in the English Channel. Their rigid inflatable dinghy suffered engine failure about four miles east of Dover, Kent, with a force four wind blowing.

RNLI officials said those on board were "lucky" as they drifted in one of the world's busiest waterways.

Concerned people on passing vessels raised the alarm with the Coastguard after spotting the stricken boat at around 7.20am today.

Dover RNLI launched its six-crewed all-weather City of London II vessel and set up a tow with the dinghy before a Border Force vessel arrived.

An RNLI spokesman said the Border Force vessel then took over the tow and took the boat with its nine occupants on board to Dover lifeboat station at 10am.

The vessel had suffered engine failure and its occupants were drifting in choppy seas with a force four wind blowing. They were spotted by passing vessels concerned for their safety which called the Coastguard. The occupants were cold but didn't need medical attention. They were lucky. They were drifting in an incredibly busy stretch of water with the wind picking up. We're glad everyone is safe and well."

– Tony Hawkins, RNLI Dover boathouse manager

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Border Agency brings nine people ashore off Dover coast

A lifeboat was called to assist UK Border Agency staff off the coast of Dover Credit: Chris Baker

Nine people have been pulled ashore by UK Border Agency staff off the coast of Dover.

The Dover Coastguard was called out at around 6am this morning to attend to an inflatable dinghy.

Once the lifeboat had reached the group and checked they were safe onboard, the group were handed over to UK Border Agency staff.

Cocaine smuggler jailed

David Perry Credit: Kent Police

A man from Ashford's been jailed for 6 years after pleading guilty to cocaine smuggling.

Canterbury Crown Court heard Border Force officers stopped a Dutch-registered lorry and questioned the driver, David Perry, at the Channel Tunnel in France.

They found 5 kilos of cocaine in the vehicle.

The drugs had a wholesale value of £200,000, with an estimate street value in excess of £500,000. Perry was arrested and pleaded guilty at a hearing at Canterbury Crown Court and was sentenced there on Monday 11 March.

£8 million of 'fake' cigarettes seized

Cigarettes seized in Southampton Credit: UK Border Agency

Border Force officers have foiled an attempt to smuggle 30 million cigarettes into the UK through the port of Southampton.

The haul was made after a container shipped from China, supposed to be carrying wind turbine parts, was stopped.

The container was scanned in an x-ray machine that showed cigarettes inside.

Two further containers were found to be linked to the first one. Together they had a total of 19.4 million Lambert & Butlers and 10.9 million Regal cigarettes, all of which are believed to be counterfeit.

Cigarettes seized in Southampton Credit: UK Border Agency

Andy Lumb, from Border Force, said: “This was cigarette smuggling on an industrial scale so I am delighted that our officers have prevented this haul of contraband from reaching our streets.

“Tobacco smuggling is not victimless. It is effectively stealing from the public purse, at a time when the country can least afford it."

It's thought if the haul had not been intercepted it would have cost the Treasury about £8,064,000 in unpaid excise duty.

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£10.5m of cannabis found on lorry

A 32-year-old man from Bulgaria has been arrested and bailed, after Border Force officers seized approximately three and a half tonnes of cannabis at Newhaven.

The drugs have an estimated street value of £10.5million pounds. The haul was discovered on Wednesday 16th January after officers stopped and searched a Spanish registered lorry which had arrived on a ferry from Dieppe. The investigation continues.

Border Force officers work round the clock, using the latest technology, sniffer dogs and their own expertise to stay one step ahead of those involved in the illegal drugs trade. Those who engage in illegal drug smuggling should be in no doubt that they will be targeted and brought to justice."

– Carole Upshall, Director Border Force South

Men charged over trafficking

Two men arrested in connection with a UK Border Agency trafficking investigation have now been charged.

Istvan Toth, 34 and his brother Peter, 27, both Hungarian nationals, living in Eastbourne, were charged with conspiracy of human trafficking for sexual exploitation into and within the UK.

They were also charged with controlling prostitution for gain.

The pair were arrested by officers from the UKBA's South East Criminal and Financial Investigation team at an address in Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne, in October. They are due to appear before magistrates on 22nd December 2012.

The pair are the fourth and fifth individuals charged in connection with Operation Amber, a UK Border Agency investigation into the trafficking of women into and around the UK. Three people have previously been charged with trafficking offences and remanded in custody.