Mounds of life jackets and dinghies have been seized as the smuggling gang that sent 10,000 across the English Channel is destroyed

Shocking footage provides insight into the scale of a criminal operation to transport 10,000 people across the English Channel.

Mounds of deflated life jackets and dinghies were uncovered in the biggest anti-smuggling sting ever, which saw raids across Europe and into London.

About 40 people were arrested while 135 boats, 45 outboard motors and more than 1,200 life jackets were seized.

The operation was coordinated by the National Crime Agency in the UK and by Europol and Eurojust across Europe and also involved law enforcement in Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

NCA officers arrested six people in London, two of whom were suspected of conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration.

Two other men were arrested for immigration offenses while a man and a woman were both detained on suspicion of possession of cocaine with intent to supply.

Arrests also took place in Germany, the Netherlands and France.

The NCA deployed officers to Germany where more than 60 boats and 900 life jackets were recovered from a farm near Osnabruck. They will now be examined by specialists.

Other boats, engines and life jackets were found in the Netherlands, along with pumps used to inflate the dinghies.

Dinghy mounds discovered in Osnabruck, Germany Photo: NCA
Mounds of life jackets found in Osnabruck, Germany Photo: NCA
Mounds of life jackets found in Osnabruck, Germany Photo: NCA

NCA Deputy Director of Investigations Jacque Beer said: “This international investigation targets one of the largest and most prolific criminal groups involved in supplying small boats and moving migrants across the English Channel. .

“The NCA played a key role, which took months of planning. We worked closely with partners in France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands to identify suspected members of this network.

“Criminal gangs involved in small boat crossings should know that we are committed to using the full weight of European law enforcement to limit your activities.”

The operation follows the arrest in May by NCA agents of a man living in London who was suspected of being a leading figure in the network.

Hewa Rahimpur, 29 and from Iran, is wanted by Belgian authorities and is now at risk of extradition from the UK.

NCA officers arrest a man in Catford Photo: NCA
NCA officers arrest a man in Catford Photo: NCA
NCA officers arrest a man in Catford Photo: NCA
NCA officers arrest a man in Catford Photo: NCA

He is accused of buying the boats in Turkey and having them delivered to Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

He then ordered the other members of his criminal organization to take them to the northern coast of France.

Those arrested for conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration into London yesterday were alleged clients of Rahimpur’s network and were allegedly involved in orchestrating migrant movements and laundering profits.

Others arrested abroad are suspected of being facilitators within the network.

A member of the network was shot and injured in a migrant camp in France in September 2021.

This incident is believed to be linked to a subsequent attempted murder in Osnabrück, Germany, in November.

NCA officers arrest a man in Catford Photo: NCA
NCA officers arrest a man in Catford Photo: NCA
Annexes to Dover
Annexes to Dover

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘These arrests send a clear message to criminal gangs preying on vulnerable people across Europe and beyond: we will stop at nothing to end your sordid trade, bring you to justice and save lives.

“This hugely significant operation shows once again that the NCA and our international partners are working diligently to dismantle smuggling networks. These callous individuals treat human lives like a commodity and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure they feel the full force of our tougher new laws designed to break their business model and appropriately punish them for their despicable crimes. .

Over the past year, the NCA has been involved in approximately 300 immigration-related organized crime arrests and is conducting more than 60 immigration-related organized crime investigations.

At least 21 organized criminal groups have been dismantled in France.

Since December, more than 1,400 social media posts, pages or accounts advertising immigration-related organized crime services have been taken down.

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