Essex lorry deaths: 26 arrested in France and Belgium

Thirty-nine Vietnamese migrants were found dead in a refrigerated lorry trailer in Grays, Essex, in October 2019

Twenty-six people have been arrested in France and Belgium in connection with the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants found in the back of a lorry in Essex last year.

The dead, including two 15-year-old boys, were found on an industrial estate about 20 miles east of London in October 2019.

The 26 arrests were made on Wednesday after early-morning raids in France and Belgium as a result of a cross-border investigation supported by Eurojust and Europol.

The individuals are suspected to be members of a major migrant smuggling group, which transported mainly Asian refugees, particularly from Vietnam.

The suspects likely transported up to several dozen people every day for several months, Eurojust said in a statement.

In Belgium, 13 people were arrested after 16 house searches were carried out in Brussels, while a further 13 people were arrested in Paris, France.