Two arrested in Belfast in early morning raid tackling people smuggling gang
Originally from Somalia, they are just two members of a much wider network making up to £20,000 per person they help traffic
Allison MorrisBelfast Telegraph
On a suburban street in south Belfast, lives a 40-year-old woman anti-trafficking officers believe is one of a network of ruthless criminals profiting from the movement of desperate people.
As the residents of Ravenhill Avenue are preparing to head off to work, the street is swarmed by Home Office officials, aided by the PSNI.
At first there is no answer at the door while the upstairs blinds twitch, as an officer with a battering ram prepares to force entry, the woman opens the door and a search of the property begins before the woman is arrested.
High on the list of items being sought is mobile phones that will give a fuller picture of the scale of the operation.
This is an investigation that has been ongoing for 10 months and involves a close partnership with the Home Office and their counterpart in the south.
The crackdown on immigration in the rest of the UK has seen traffickers diversify and change routes. Bringing desperate people mainly from the poorer African nations through ports in the south of Ireland before crossing the border, many seeking asylum in Northern Ireland.
Across town and at an apartment complex in Annadale on the banks of the River Lagan, residents watch on with curiosity as a 26-year-old man is brought out in handcuffs, he is an associate of the woman arrested earlier in the day.
Both, originally from Somalia, are naturalised British citizens, just two members of a much wider network making up to £20,000 per person they help traffic to the UK.