Human Trafficking

16 arrests as Vietnamese network smuggling migrants across the English Channel busted

A joint operation involving law enforcement authorities from France and the United Kingdom, supported by Europol, led to the dismantling of a Vietnamese criminal network smuggling migrants across the English Channel. The network was also involved in sexual and labour exploitation and money laundering.

The criminal network smuggled migrants from Poland and Germany through France to the United Kingdom. The main organiser – the right hand of the leader of the criminal network – organised the smuggling activities, while another their accomplice was in charge of collecting the money and organising migrant convoys. Most of the migrants had illegally entered the EU through the use of fraudulently obtained working visas. Some of the irregular migrants were smuggling methamphetamine to the region of Paris, supplying Asian drug trafficking groups based in the area in return for a reduced price for their journey. Other migrants suffered sexual exploitation or labour exploitation in grocery shops and nail salons.

Results from 22 April 2024:
16 locations searched (12 in France, 4 in the United Kingdom),
16 arrests (12 in France and 4 in the United Kingdom),
Seizures including: vehicles, luxury goods and watches, synthetic drugs, electronic equipment, documents and the equivalent of over EUR 100 000 in cash in different currencies and EUR 289 000 in bank accounts.
Between EUR 15 000 and EUR 18 000 per migrant

Another member of the criminal network was in charge of arranging migrants’ accommodation in the Paris region, before their eventual smuggling to the United Kingdom. The same individual was also in charge of smuggling migrants entering the EU via Poland. After their stay in the region of Paris, the migrants were transported to the region of Dunkerque. Other smugglers then organised their crossing of the English channels using small boats. The investigation suggests that the network may have also organised the transportation of migrants from France to the United Kingdom by trucks. In total, the migrants had to pay between EUR 15 000 and EUR 18 000 to be smuggled to their final destination; the United Kingdom.

Europol facilitated the exchange of information and provided operational coordination and analytical support. On the action day, Europol deployed an analyst to France to cross-check operational information against Europol’s databases and to provide leads to investigators in the field.