London: Four Vietnamese arrested for smuggling people

Four Vietnamese nationals were taken into custody in London following an investigation into an alleged people-smuggling operation that advertised illicit small-boat Channel crossings on Facebook. The joint UK-French probe revealed that the suspects targeted the Vietnamese community with their online posts and charged migrants thousands of pounds for the illegal journey.

The arrests occurred in various locations. A 23-year-old woman was detained at her residence in Croydon, south London; a 64-year-old man was taken into custody in south-east London; and a 34-year-old man was arrested in Leicester. Additionally, a 25-year-old man was arrested in Croydon under a French-issued warrant, accused of people smuggling and drug-related crimes. According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), the older man allegedly worked as a driver, transporting migrants from small boats and, in at least one instance, taking them to the Croydon address.

The first three individuals were arrested on suspicion of assisting illegal immigration and subsequently charged. They appeared at Croydon Magistrates Court on Tuesday, where they were questioned by NCA officers. The 25-year-old man faces extradition proceedings due to his alleged involvement in people smuggling and drug trafficking.

The NCA noted that a further 12 individuals suspected of links to the same people-smuggling network were arrested in Paris. The Home Secretary, James Cleverly, commented on the efforts to dismantle these criminal operations, emphasizing the UK’s commitment to working with partners to disrupt people-smuggling networks. He mentioned a recent agreement with Vietnam to strengthen cooperation on illegal migration.

Chris Farrimond, the NCA’s Director of Threat Leadership, pointed out that Vietnamese nationals are a significant portion of those arriving via small boats. He highlighted that this group used social media to promote their illegal services, and the NCA has taken down thousands of pages and posts advertising organized immigration crime.

The NCA and its partners continue their investigation, targeting people smugglers in the UK and overseas at every stage of the smuggling route, aiming to break the networks responsible for the illegal crossings.

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