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Four charged with human trafficking over migrants found in back of lorry
18 October 2020, 18:46
Four men have been charged with human trafficking after the suspected transfer of migrants stowed in the back of a lorry was intercepted in Kent.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) arrested two Romanian lorry drivers and two Albanian men after witnessing the handover of four migrants close to Cobham Services near the A2 at 8am on Friday.
The men, all Albanian nationals aged between 20 and 35, are now being held by immigration authorities, the NCA said.
Albanian Brothers Arben Cakici, 48, and Astrit Cakici, 37, who had been living illegally in east London, were charged with facilitating illegal entry into the UK and possessing a firearm.
Arben Cakici faces a further charge of carrying a knife.
Lorry drivers Ionut Colibei, 34, and Valerica Prutearu, 41, were charged with facilitating illegal entry into the UK, while Colibei also faces a charge of possession of a knife.
The four men will appear before magistrates on Monday, although the court has yet to be confirmed, the NCA said.
The arrests were part of an investigation by the NCA targeting people smugglers.
The NCA also said that a 30-year-old man arrested in Hastings on Friday on suspicion of supplying small boats to human traffickers in France has been released under investigation.
The individual was arrested as part of a separate investigation.
A total of 12 people have been arrested in the past week in connection with people smuggling.
The latest charges come as 170 migrants crossed the Channel in just 12 small boats on Saturday, according to Home Office figures.
A further 222 were prevented from crossing by the French authorities.
It is expected that many more will have attempted to cross on Sunday while conditions on the water remained viable for the journey, if still extremely dangerous.
According to French media, a man was found dead on a beach close to Sangatte near Calais on Sunday morning.
The individual, estimated to be between the ages of 20 and 40, was wearing a life jacket and "almost certainly" died while trying to make the crossing, local site La Voix du Nord said.
Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts, Chris Philp, said on Saturday: "We are taking action at every step of these illegally facilitated journeys to make this route unviable.
"We are working closely with the French who today have stopped 222 people from making this dangerous crossing, seizing boats and equipment and intercepting people inland.
He added: "We are also committed to fixing the asylum system, to stop those who have no right to be in the UK coming here, to make it fairer and firmer, compassionate to those who need help and welcoming people through safe and legal routes."