Duo suspected of running smuggling ring through UK airports arrested after 'booking 27 migrants onto 11 flights'

28 February 2024, 19:30

The raid also found Class A drugs in the London property, with one of the men later arrested on suspicion of drug supply.
The raid also found Class A drugs in the London property, with one of the men later arrested on suspicion of drug supply. Picture: Alamy
Jasmine Moody

By Jasmine Moody

Two men were arrested in Finsbury Park, north London, on Tuesday morning and are suspected to be part of a gang that books people's flights into the UK with fake documents, according to the Home Office.

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The Albanian nationals were arrested after a series of police raids.

The network of traffickers allegedly booked 27 migrants onto 11 flights and told them to claim asylum upon arrival with their passports, said the Home Office in a statement.

The raid also found Class A drugs in the London property, with one of the men later arrested on suspicion of drug supply.

The two were identified after officers from the Home Office Criminal and Financial Investigations team and Border Force connected their booking details with arriving migrants on flights illegally between July 22 and January 2023.

The arrests come as the UK and Albania have set up a new joint task force.
The arrests come as the UK and Albania have set up a new joint task force. Picture: Alamy

Also found by police was evidence of fake UK biometric residence permit documents and airline tickets issued by the suspects to the migrants.

Read more: West must 'help people thrive in their own countries' to tackle migrant crisis, James Cleverly says

Read more: UK to sign new small boats deal with EU in bid to stop migrants from crossing Channel

This news comes after seven members of the same gang were arrested in January over three raids at Finsbury Park addresses.

All arrested suspects have been bailed pending further investigation.

Minister for Countering Illegal Migration, Michael Tomlinson, said in the statement: "People smuggling networks will stop at nothing in their efforts to abuse our borders and our laws. They are putting lives at risk.

"It is vital we stay ahead of the criminal gangs behind these crimes, and I thank our officers whose hard work led to the success of this operation."

The arrests come as the UK and Albania have set up a new joint task force.

Since 1 July 2021, over 8,000 Albanian nationals who have committed criminal and immigration offences have been returned, says the Home Office.

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