03:46PM, Thursday 01 April 2021
The suspected leader of a people-smuggling crime network has been deported to Belgium from Slough.
The suspected offender, whose name has not been revealed at the request of Belgian authorities, was living in Cippenham when he was arrested by officers in January 2020.
The 30-year-old was subject to a European Arrest Warrant issued by a judge in Antwerp, Belgium.
He is alleged to have organised the transportation of significant numbers of people in 2018 and 2019.
Migrants were moved from Brussels to motorway service lorry parks and would be loaded onto trucks bound for the UK. The group often used refrigerated lorries.
The Iraqi national’s extradition was confirmed by courts in the UK on March 12 and on March 27 he was returned to Belgium, where he is now in custody and awaiting trial.
The suspected offender was arrested in January 2020 and deported last week.
A woman who was arrested at the same time has since been released.
NCA head of organised immigration crime operations, Miles Bonfield, said: “NCA officers both in the UK and overseas have worked closely with our Belgian counterparts throughout this investigation.
“We are determined to do all we can to tackle criminal people-smuggling networks impacting on the UK, no matter where they are.
“These networks are ruthless, treating migrants as a commodity to be profited from, and we have seen the tragic consequences that can come about when refrigerated lorries are used in such attempts.”
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