50 officers arrest a man and woman in NI people smuggling probe

Two people have been arrested as part of an operation targeting a suspected people-smuggling gang in Northern Ireland.

By Gemma Murray
Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 2:32 pm

This morning, around 50 officers from the Government’s Immigration Enforcement team and the PSNI carried out warrants at two properties in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

A 40-year-old woman and a 26-year-old man, both naturalised British Citizens, were both arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration of non-UK nationals.

The woman was also arrested on suspicion of possession of criminal property.

The scene of the arrests today

Today’s activity is an example of the work underway to crack down on the abuse of the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "This operation shows yet again our expertly trained officers working tirelessly to keep our country safe by disrupting suspected criminal activity.

“By working hand-in-hand with our Irish partners, we will continue to stop those who seek to abuse the Common Travel Area to enter the UK.

“People smugglers put lives in extreme danger and I hope these arrests act as a stark warning to criminal gangs that they will feel the full force of our tougher laws. Through our New Plan for Immigration, we can truly break their business model and suitably punish them for their callous crimes.”

The scene of the arrest today

The two individuals arrested today have been taken into custody in Musgrave Police Station for questioning.

This operation follows a significant investigation by the Home Office’s Criminal and Financial Investigations (CFI) team.

Two people have previously been arrested in connection with this investigation.

The British and Irish governments continue to work closely through the Cross Border Joint Agency Taskforce, to disrupt organised crime groups and tackle organised immigration crime, modern slavery and human trafficking.

50 officers from the Government’s Immigration Enforcement team and the Police Service of Northern Ireland carried out warrants at two properties in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Deputy Director, Immigration Enforcement Criminal & Financial Investigations, Ben Thomas, said: "Today’s operation is just one of the ways we are working with our policing partners to take action against those who are attempting to bring people illegally into the country hidden in vehicles.

“We are committed to dismantling people-smuggling networks and hope these arrests send a clear message to those involved in this type of criminality that we will stop at nothing to bring you to justice.

“We will continue to work closely with law enforcement colleagues to save lives and ensure that people smugglers and traffickers face the consequences of their despicable crimes.”