Fishing boat intercepted off East Anglia sparking people smuggling probe – 72 arrested | UK | News
The National Crime Agency has arrested three crew members on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration. A total of 69 Albanians on board the vessel are also understood to have been detained. The agency, which fights organised crime, intercepted a 30-metre boat off the coast of Great Yarmouth in East Anglia on yesterday evening after it sailed from the Ostend area of Belgium.
The Harwich RNLI and coastguard teams were called out just before midnight.
A police helicopter was also seen circling over Shotley marina, around 150ft above the sea at approximately 10.45pm.
The three crew members, including a Latvian national and two Ukrainian nationals, were arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration.
The other 69 people, who were all Albanian nationals, were also arrested on suspicion of breaking immigration rules.
Craig Naylor, NCA Deputy Director of Investigations, said: “This was clearly a significant incident and a significant attempt to breach the UK’s border controls.
“Our investigation into this attempt continues, and I’d like to thank our partners at Essex Police, Border Force and Immigration Enforcement for all they did last night and their ongoing work in support of our investigation going forward.
“We are determined to do all we can to disrupt and dismantle people smuggling networks, and prevent them from exploiting migrants for profit.”
He added: “Working with our partners we are determined to do all we can to disrupt and dismantle people smuggling networks, and prevent them from exploiting migrants for profit.
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The other 69 people will be dealt with by immigration officers, according to the NCA.
A search of the vessel is being carried out.
Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, Dan O’Mahoney said: “Thanks to the coordinated work between our partners at home and abroad we were able to quickly secure the vessel and a criminal investigation is now underway.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I’ve been clear that I’ll use every arm of the law to break up the ruthless gangs who facilitate this criminal activity.
“Yesterday’s operation was a big win for our intelligence and law enforcement agencies who have halted a serious illegal enterprise and cut off a source of funding for an organised criminal gang.
“We are unapologetically returning migrants who have no right to stay in the UK to safe countries with flights every week and will do whatever we can to make this route unviable.
“My thanks go to all our operational partners for their role in the important criminal investigation.”