Man arrested in Stockport as part of group 'smuggling 50 people into UK'

Immigration enforcement officers during one of the raids
Immigration enforcement officers during one of the raids -Credit:Home Office

A suspected people smuggler has been arrested in Stockport as part of a series of dawn raids carried out by the Home Office. Four men, who are believed to have smuggled 50 people into the UK illegally, were detained on Wednesday (April 18).

Two Kurdish Iraqis, aged 36 and 27, were arrested in Stockport and Southampton. The Home Office also arrested two British nationals, both aged 43, who were living in Huddersfield and Middlesbrough.

It's believed the group are responsible for dozens of attempts to bring people into the UK. Some of the smuggling efforts were carried out on commercial airline flights.

READ MORE: Parents of baby girl who died after allegedly being strapped face-down to beanbag by nursery worker tell trial jurors of their heartbreak

Other people were hidden in cars and on ferries. The Home Office says the criminal network was responsible for as many as 50 people entering the UK illegally since 2022.

The migrants are predominantly Kurdish and Vietnamese nationals. Michael Tomlinson, Minister for Countering Illegal Migration, said: "We're working day and night to dismantle the criminal gangs who are trying to turn a profit by abusing our borders.

Four raids were carried out
Four raids were carried out -Credit:Home Office

"These arrests make clear if you are involved in this kind of criminality, you can expect our teams to find you and bring you to justice wherever you are in the UK." The group's operations are believed to have spanned Europe, with smuggling attempts taking place across the UK's borders with the Republic of Ireland and France.

The Home Office says intelligence suggests the suspects have been supplying and manufacturing false travel documents, including passports, national identity cards and blank visas. It is believed they have been charging more than £1,000 per document.

Paul Harvey, Home Office criminal and financial investigator, said: "This has been a large and well-planned operation executed across the entire country. We are working tirelessly to disrupt and dismantle the networks of criminals helping migrants to enter the UK illegally.

"I'm grateful to my team for their commitment and determination in this investigation. We will now work hard to ensure these suspects are put behind bars."