Member of boat smuggling gang arrested after being found by German police dog
A suspected member of an international trafficking ring which allegedly smuggled thousands of people across the English Channel has been arrested in Germany.
The 41-year-old German citizen was detained following a raid on a farm in Lotte, Westphalia, northwest Germany, in the early hours of Tuesday.
The man, named as Dirk P by Der Spiegel, is accused of storing equipment such as inflatable boats, boat motors and life jackets on his property.
He is also suspected of "inhumane and life-threatening smuggling as well as membership in a criminal organisation", according to a European Arrest Warrant issued by authorities in Belgium.
When officers arrived at the farm this morning, the suspect fled.
A police dog later found him hiding in the attic.
Today's arrest follows the biggest ever international operation targeting a gang accused of moving up to 10,000 people across the Channel in small boats.
A total of 39 suspected smugglers or supporters were arrested and 52 properties were searched in the joint sting by authorities in the UK, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands in July 2022.
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During searches in Germany last summer, numerous items of evidence were seized, including 119 inflatable boats, 33 boat motors, 966 life jackets, 64 mobile phones and tablets and about 27,000 euros in cash.
It's claimed the group charged around €3,500 (£3,000) for a place on a dinghy, often packing up to 60 people on board as they were sent on the perilous journey from France.
In total, more than 45,000 people are believed to have arrived in the UK on small boats last year.