Four men arrested in suspected people smuggling raids

Travellers wait to get through a border check in the UK.
The Home Office believes the network may have helped up to 50 people enter the UK illegally. Credit: PA Images

Four men believed to have illegally smuggled up to 50 people into the UK have been arrested following dawn raids carried out across the country.

Two British nationals living in Middlesbrough and Huddersfield, both aged 43, were arrested along with two Kurdish Iraqis, aged 36 and 27, who were arrested in Stockport and Southampton.

It is believed the men are responsible for dozens of attempts to bring people into the UK illegally on commercial airline flights, on ferries and hidden in cars.

The Home Office says as many as 50 people are thought to have entered the UK through this criminal network since 2022, with the migrants predominantly being Kurdish and Vietnamese nationals.

Intelligence suggests the group were manufacturing and supplying false documents at a cost of more than £1,000 each. Credit: PA Images

The UK's Minister for Countering Illegal Migration Michael Tomlinson, said: “We’re working day and night to dismantle the criminal gangs who are trying to turn a profit by abusing our borders.

“These arrests make clear if you are involved in this kind of criminality, you can expect our teams to find you and bring you to justice – wherever you are in the UK.”

It is believed the group’s operations have reached across Europe and smuggling attempts have taken place across the UK’s borders with the Republic of Ireland and France.

The Home Office said its intelligence suggests the suspects have been manufacturing and supplying false travel documents such as passports, national identity cards and blank visas - with the group believed to have charged more than £1,000 per documents.

Home Office criminal and financial investigator, Paul Harvey, said: “This has been a large and well-planned operation executed across the entire country. We are working tirelessly to disrupt and dismantle the networks of criminals helping migrants to enter the UK illegally.

“I’m grateful to my team for their commitment and determination in this investigation. We will now work hard to ensure these suspects are put behind bars.”

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