British-Spanish police operation crushes Albanian trafficking gangs


A joint operation between the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and Spain’s Guardia Civil has arrested seven men from an Albanian organized crime group on suspicion of smuggling illegal immigrants into the UK in a cargo truck.

The NCA said the gang brought about 50 illegal immigrants, mostly Albanians, on ferries between the Spanish ports of Bilbao and Santander, Portsmouth, Southampton and Liverpool, England.

Some of the Albanians flew directly from Tirana to Spain, while other illegal immigrants were found and recruited in camps near Bilbao and Santander.

Spanish prosecutors said the charges charged ranged between 3,000 euros ($2,900) and 15,000 euros ($14,500) and that the gang had provided food and lodging to illegal immigrants before taking them to a ferry in the back of a lorry. said to have been smuggled into

Seven people were arrested between October 3 and 5, two in Madrid and the rest in the Basque Country, though details were not released until Monday.

Guardia Civil seized cell phones, computers, bank cards and passports essential to the investigation.

The danger of smuggling people with large trucks is “obvious”

NCA International Regional Manager Steve Reynolds said: “We have been confronted by criminal groups who are ready to smuggle migrants in trucks through one of the longer ferry and freight crossings to the UK. It was done.”

“The danger is self-evident,” he said, referring to 39 illegal Vietnamese migrants who died of suffocation in the bed of a truck being brought from Belgium to the UK in October 2019.

“By working closely with our Spanish counterparts, we were able to dismantle their operations and prevent any more lives from being endangered,” Reynolds said.

“This operation shows how the NCA is determined to take action against human smugglers at every stage of its route to the UK, including upstream in transit countries like Spain. ‘ he added.

All seven arrested, including the alleged mastermind, will be tried in Spain.

When the pandemic began and international freight traffic declined, traffickers switched to transporting people across the English Channel on boats, but the resumption of trade saw a gradual resumption of smuggling of people in trucks. I got

Graham Hancock, head of the Invigor UK Organized Migrant Crime Task Force, added: involvement. “

Albania is a major source of illegal immigration to the UK and on 7 October an Albanian man was arrested in London in connection with trafficking in small boats across the English Channel.

Chris Summers


Chris Summers is a UK-based journalist with a wide range of national coverage, with a particular interest in crime, police and law.