Three people have been arrested following an investigation into the alleged supply of small boats to cross-Channel people smugglers.
On April 8, a 33-year-old woman from the Hammersmith area of west London was arrested by the National Crime Agency (NCA) at a location in Glasgow. She was taken to Carlisle police station where she was questioned by NCA investigators on suspicion of attempting to facilitate illegal immigration. A property in Hammersmith was also searched. She was released under investigation on April 9.
Her arrest followed the detention of two U.K.-based suspects on April 7 by officers of the Dutch Royal Marechaussee (KMar) in The Hague, Netherlands. The pair, a 33-year-old from Hammersmith, and the other a 28-year-old man of no fixed abode, remain in custody and now face potential prosecution by the Dutch authorities. A number of deflated boats were also seized.
The arrests are all linked to an NCA investigation into the sourcing of rigid hull inflatable boats in the U.K. and Europe, which are then transported to the Netherlands for storage.
The boats are allegedly then supplied to organized crime groups involved in smuggling people across the English Channel from northern France and Belgium.
NCA Regional Head of Investigation Jacque Beer said: “Smuggling people across the Channel in small boats is extremely hazardous and can have tragic consequences. The organized crime groups behind these attempts don’t care about safety or preservation of life, they just see migrants as a commodity to profit from and exploit.
“In our view those who supply them with boats knowing what they are going to be used for are equally as culpable in these criminal enterprises.
“This operation is a demonstration of our determination to disrupt and dismantle people smugglers’ business models at every step, and we are grateful for the assistance of the Dutch authorities.”