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Illegal immigration probe Suspected members of Albanian people smuggling gang quizzed following searches

Senior sources say that the Irish based gang are part of a European wide organisation involved in facilitating illegal immigration into the UK

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Gardai announced details of the arrest operation in a statement earlier. Stock photo

Gardai announced details of the arrest operation in a statement earlier. Stock photo

Gardai announced details of the arrest operation in a statement earlier. Stock photo

Three suspected members of an Albanian people smuggling gang are still being questioned this evening after they were arrested following six searches this morning in Dublin and Wicklow.

Senior sources say that the Irish based gang are part of a European wide organisation involved in facilitating illegal immigration into the UK.

“The people targeted today are suspected of being part of this organisation,” the senior source said.

“It is suspected that they have been helping people in terms of altering documentation to help illegal immigrants on from the Republic of Ireland and onto the UK either through Northern Ireland or by other means,” the source added.

The source pointed out that the gang have been operating here before the Brexit situation started and have been targets of a major Europol investigation which today’s arrests are part of.

A number of Albanian criminals involved in people smuggling have been jailed in the UK in recent times including a 36-year-old gang boss who was jailed for nine years after being convicted of smuggling people into England by sea on the Channel.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to do an act to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK immigration law by a non-EU person.

Many victims of the crime network can be forced into unpaid work in the UK.

“These people generally are not wanting to stay in Ireland – the gang is facilitating them getting into the UK,” the source said.

Gardai announced details of the arrest operation in a statement earlier.

“This morning, Wednesday, 28th April, 2021, a search and arrest operation was undertaken by the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) involving the searching of a total of six residential premises, five of which are located in County Dublin and one in County Wicklow,” a spokesman said.

“This operation was undertaken as part of an ongoing investigation into an organised crime group suspected of facilitating illegal immigration through the Common Travel Area.

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“Relevant investigations are being undertaken under the auspices of the Cross Border Joint Agency Task Force and are supported by Europol.

“Immigration Enforcement within the UK’s Home Office undertook related searches this morning also.

“In the course of this operational activity, suspected false documents, telephones, financial documentation, and cash was seized.

“Three male adults, aged 52, 46 and 26, were arrested by personnel attached to GNIB, on suspicion of breaches of the provisions of section 72 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, relating to suspected involvement in facilitating a criminal organisation to commit a serious offence.

“The prisoners are currently detained, pursuant to the provisions of Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act 2007, at a number of Dublin Garda Stations.

“Speaking this morning on the investigation, Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll, Head of Organised & Serious Crime said: "This operation was undertaken by the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) with a view to protecting the common travel area operated by the UK and Ireland from being exploited by organised crime groups who are suspected to be involved in facilitating illegal immigration”.

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