Police smash one of UK's biggest ever people-smuggling rings in dawn raids
The Daily Mail
1st February 2008
Police today smashed a people-smuggling ring suspected of bringing potentially hundreds of illegal migrants into the UK.
Officers arrested 13 people as they raided 11 addresses across London and one in Kidderminster, Worcestershire.
The majority of suspects are believed to belong to a gang of Turkish people smugglers who specialised in trafficking Chinese nationals.
Senior officers said suspected traffickers from every rung of the criminal ladder were among those arrested, including two “Mr Bigs”.
Police said some of the properties at the centre of today's operation were home to up to 30 illegal migrant workers.
The move, codenamed Operation Greensea, followed similar raids by police in Belgium and France over the past few weeks.
It followed 12 months of surveillance and information gathering, led by Scotland Yard's serious and organised crime unit.
Senior officers said the Turkish gang were responsible for the final leg of a journey that could take the Chinese migrants up to 18 months to complete.
Each person would pay up to 21,000 to be brought across Asia into western Europe and eventually Britain, netting the traffickers huge sums.
Most of migrants come from Fujian province in south east China where there is a culture of sending people overseas to earn money for their family.
The journey takes many months because the migrants are often forced to wait at safe houses en route as the next stage of their journey is organised.
Detective Superintendent Steve Richardson, of Scotland Yard, said London was the target of those undertaking the tortuous journey.
He said: “The scope to make substantial sums of money is definitely there in this criminal network as there is with drugs.
“Somebody can make a very reasonable living if they have their routes set up and their network in place.
“We have today dismantled two organised criminal networks involved in what is suspected to be large-scale human smuggling into the UK.
“We are committed to taking out these networks and this operation is the latest in our collaboration with a growing number of law enforcement agencies in Europe and the UK to work robustly to achieve this mission.”
Tony Smith, regional director of the Border and Immigration Agency, said some 18,000 potential illegal migrants were stopped every year.
As many as 13,000 of these are caught concealed in lorries at major ports, particularly Calais.
Speaking about what those trafficked into the UK end up doing, he said: “We expect that they will be working illegally.
“We are anxious to clamp down on illegal workers in this country and to target employers that employ others illegally and profit in this way.”
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