40 people have been arrested in massive, coordinated raids across the United Kingdom and three other European countries. Authorities are reporting that the people arrested were trafficking small children and illegal aliens across the English Channel in small boats.
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Just about 13,000 people have crossed the English Channel in rigid inflatable boats since the beginning of the year and the numbers are expected to rise. This opens the door for human traffickers to take advantage of illegal and legal immigrants who are hoping to enter a new country.
But on Tuesday, in an operation coordinated by Eurojust—the European Union’s criminal justice cooperation agency—homes in Britain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands were raided and more than 40 people were arrested.
Eurojust is expected to reveal more about Operation Thoren at a press conference in The Hague later on Wednesday.
Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) launched its own Operation Punjum—part of Operation Thoren—to smash an organized crime gang thought to have brought 10,000 people across the Channel since the beginning of 2021.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
“These arrests send a clear message to the criminal gangs who are preying on vulnerable people across Europe and beyond: we will stop at nothing to end your sordid trade, bring you to justice and save lives. This hugely significant operation once again shows the NCA and our international partners working diligently to dismantle people-smuggling networks.”
The NCA said, in a statement, it was the “biggest ever international operation targeting criminal networks suspected of using small boats to smuggle thousands of people into the UK.” They said it was launched following the arrest of a people-trafficking “kingpin” in London in May this year.