A Lincolnshire man is among 23 arrested around the county as part of a major investigation into people smuggling into the UK.
The arrests were made by officers from Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigations (CFI) teams and the National Crime Agency between Wednesday, September 11 and Saturday, September 21.
They included 11 people who are suspected of facilitating illegal crossings of the Channel in small boats.
As part of a sting of operations in the last week, a 33-year-old British man was arrested at an address in Middle Rasen on Thursday, September 19.
The man was arrested on suspicion of facilitating a breach of the UK’s immigration rules in relation to a small boat incident on December 11, 2018.
He, along with a 49-year-old, a 60-year-old and a 35-year-old arrested in the same week in other parts of the country, has been released under investigation.
In addition, CFI officers arrested twelve suspected people smugglers at the UK’s juxtaposed controls in northern France between Monday 16 September and Friday 20 September, as a result of intelligence from Border Force. These individuals were arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry into the UK in motor vehicles.
The investigations will now continue with the evidence gathered during these operations.
Steve Dann, Director of Criminal and Financial Investigations, said: “The organised crime groups behind the illegal attempts to cross the border, either by land or sea, are putting the lives of vulnerable people in serious danger for their own financial gain.
“We are determined to put a stop to this illegal activity and disrupting the ruthless criminals who facilitate it is key. That is why the arrests made in recent days are so significant.”
Steve Reynolds, head of Organised Immigration Crime operations for the NCA, said: “As these operations demonstrate, the NCA is working closely with law enforcement partners in the UK and France to disrupt people smuggling networks, protect the security of the UK border and prevent loss of life. Attempts to cross the Channel have also been thwarted on the French side as a result of intelligence sharing.”
Since January, more than 80 people who entered the UK illegally on small boats have been returned to Europe.
Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously