Four men have been arrested as part of an ongoing investigation into an attempt to smuggle migrants into the UK which resulted in the death of an Iranian woman.
The woman went into the water from an inflatable vessel as it tried to cross the Channel on 9 August. This incident took place around 25 miles off the coast of Ramsgate. Her body was later recovered off the Dutch coast.
The first man to be held, a 31-year-old Iranian national, was in the same boat during the crossing.
He was arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration by NCA officers in Coventry on the morning of Friday 20 September. He was questioned and released under investigation.
Three other men, aged 25, 44, and 28 were arrested in France on 7 October and are currently being questioned. The investigation in France is being led by the Prosecution Office of the Court of Boulogne-sur-Mer.
In addition to the UK arrest, two men, both Iranian nationals, were interviewed under caution by NCA investigators in the Liverpool and Lancashire areas.
Steve Reynolds, Head of Organised Immigration Crime Operations for the NCA, said:
“The dangers posed by these types of attempts to reach the UK illegally were tragically highlighted by what happened in this case.
“Our investigation into the people behind this smuggling attempt continues, and I would ask anyone with information which might aid that investigation to come forward to us or via Crimestoppers.
“While we know some of these attempts have been self-facilitated, it is also clear that organised crime groups have been involved in many of them.
“These groups don’t care about the dangers of these journeys, and are quite happy to prey on the desperation of migrants and put them in terrible danger.
“The NCA is working closely with law enforcement partners in the UK and France to disrupt these networks, protect the security of the UK border and prevent loss of life.”
The investigation into the facilitation attempt on 9 August is being led by the NCA, supported by Immigration Enforcement and in conjunction the French authorities.
The death of the migrant whose body was found off the coast of the Netherlands is being investigated by the Dutch authorities.
Steve Dann, Director of Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation teams, said:
“This was a tragic loss of life and a stark reminder of the dangers involved in these illegal Channel crossings.
“We remain committed to supporting operations in the UK and France to bring all those responsible to justice.
“We are running several of our own people smuggling investigations and last month arrested 16 people on suspicion of facilitation offences.”