Further arrests in major NCA investigation targeting Albanian people smuggling network

Four more people have been arrested as part of an ongoing National Crime Agency investigation targeting an organised crime group alleged to be involved in smuggling hundreds of Albanian migrants to the UK illegally.

Two women aged 27 and 29 and a man aged 22 were held in the Cowley area of Oxford, while a 34-year-old man was arrested by the NCA in the Beckenham area of south east London.

The raids were the latest phase of a significant NCA investigation into a people smuggling network, which investigators believe used lorries and hired vans to transport individuals from northern France.

Seven people were arrested as part of the same investigation in July 2021.

The group are alleged to have had contacts across Europe, in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland. In some cases migrants are believed to have paid the OCG between £20,000 and £25,000 to reach the UK.

The latest four suspects were detained last Wednesday (9 February) on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration. After being questioned the three arrested in Oxford were released under investigation, while the man from Beckenham was bailed pending further enquiries.

NCA Branch Commander Richard Harrison said:

“This is a second phase of arrests made as part of this investigation, which we believe will have significantly disrupted a major organised network involved in the smuggling of large numbers of the people to the UK illegally.

“It demonstrates our continued determination to do all we can to stop the criminal gangs who threaten the security of the UK border and treat migrants as a commodity to be profited from.”