Four arrested in NCA migrant smuggling investigation

Four men suspected of smuggling migrants into the UK in boats from Belgium have been arrested.

Two Albanian nationals, aged 44 and 48, were detained in Nottingham on Tuesday morning, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

A 46-year-old Irish man was also arrested in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, as well as a 51-year-old Albanian in Hove, east Sussex.

The men are facing allegations they are part of a gang organising people smuggling from the UK to Europe, including a number of crossings last year.

It is alleged they have been involved in acquiring dinghies and using them to travel to Belgium to collect migrants before landing in Margate, Kent.

The latest operation is linked to two arrests in Belgium in October last year where two men, one from Basingstoke and one from Leicester, were detained on suspicion of people smuggling offences as they arrived on the coast near Nieuwpoort at 4.30am.

Twelve migrants, including a child, all believed to be Albanian nationals, were also taken into custody by the Belgian authorities.

NCA branch commander Colin Williams said: “These arrests follow an extensive investigation into individuals who we believe were involved in a number of migrant crossings from Belgium to the Kent coast in 2022.

“Tackling people smuggling continues to be a priority for the NCA as we target and disrupt organised crime groups at every step of the route.”