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Seven people have been arrested as part of a National Crime Agency operation aimed at dismantling an organised crime group involved in transporting hundreds of Albanian migrants to the UK illegally


Among those detained by NCA officers, in a series of raids in south London, Surrey, Oxfordshire and Hartlepool yesterday, was the alleged ringleader of the people smuggling network. Investigators believe they used lorries and hired vans to transport individuals from France.

Some migrants are believed to have paid the organised crime group between £20,000-£25,000 to reach the UK. NCA financial investigators have identified bank accounts, alleged to belong to the network, each showing tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds in turnover.

All seven arrested are being questioned on suspicion of offences including conspiring to facilitate illegal entry to the UK and money laundering.

The operation, which involved around 100 officers, was supported by the Metropolitan Police and Immigration Enforcement. Approximately £30,000 cash was also detained.