UK arrests woman as Albanian human traffickers targeted

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UK police on Wednesday arrested an Albanian woman suspected of helping transport migrants across the English Channel in small boats, as authorities target the largest single national group now making the crossing.

The 31-year-old was arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration and has been taken into custody for questioning, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

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Officers had acted on information that “Albanian organized crime groups were acting as brokers, seeking to facilitate the illegal migration of Albanian nationals,” said Jacque Beer, NCA Regional Head of Investigations.

“People smugglers only care about money, they don’t care about migrants’ safety or security.”

“Channel crossings are utterly perilous, which is why disrupting and dismantling criminal networks is a priority,” he added.

The UK has vowed to speed up removals of Albanians illegally entering the country: official statistics show they are now the largest single group making small-boat crossings of the Channel.

Two weeks ago, Spanish police said they had broken up a gang suspected of smuggling Albanian migrants including children into Britain, hidden as stowaways in dangerous conditions aboard ferries and merchant ships.

The smuggling network provided migrants with accommodation and food until they made their journey to Britain.

A total of 2,165 Albanians made the dangerous crossing from northern France during the first six months of 2022, compared with 815 during the whole of 2021.

In previous years, asylum seekers from war zones made up the vast bulk of small-boat arrivals.

More than 500 migrants arrived in the UK on 12 boats after crossing the Channel on Tuesday, taking the provisional total for the year so far to 37,570.

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