(LONDON) Old Bailey Court Report: Four men have been found guilty of their involvement in a ‘ People Smuggling Ring ‘ which led to the deaths of 39-Vietnamese men, women and children in October 2019 i n a trailer park in Grays, Essex as NCA arrest another man in Belgium and will be extradited in the near fut ure #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Dec.21: The tragic discovery was made in the early hours of Wednesday 23 October 2019, when the victims were found unresponsive in the trailer of a lorry in Grays: National Crime Agency officers worked alongside Essex Police throughout their investigation, providing specialist support and assistance crucial to the successful prosecution: This included deploying investigative and intelligence assets overseas and in the UK, as well as immigration crime and victim ID specialists: The NCA’s international network also provided links to Vietnam and other countries involved in the investigation as it widened: At the Old Bailey today, Monday 21 December, the jury returned their verdicts after a 10-week trial:

Four found guilty over Essex lorry deaths in 2019 on Monday & an unnamed man has been arrested in Belgium by NCA officers on Tuesday & awaits extradition in 2021……..

Essex lorry victims

A man wanted in Belgium on suspicion of smuggling a number of Vietnamese migrants found dead in a lorry in Essex has been arrested by the National Crime Agency: The man, who was located by NCA officers at an address in the Redditch area of Worcestershire, was apprehended on the evening of Tuesday 15 December on a European Arrest Warrant issued by a Belgian investigating judge” He is now subject to extradition proceedings and has been remanded in custody until a hearing due on 12 March 2021:

People smuggling suspect wanted in connection with Essex lorry deaths arrested by the NCA

The arrested man, who can’t be named for legal reasons, is wanted by Belgian prosecutors who allege he was a member of a criminal network involved in large scale organised people smuggling: He is suspected of having been involved in transporting at least ten of the 39 found dead in Essex, moving them from a safe house in Anderlecht, Brussels, in taxis to a location near the French/Belgian border before they were put onto the lorry: After hearing the migrants had died, it is alleged the man fled Belgium and initially went to Germany before moving to the UK: Details of the arrest can now be released following the conclusion of a trial at the Old Bailey which saw four people found guilty of their involvement in a people smuggling ring which led to the deaths of 39 Vietnamese men, women and children in October last year:

Head of Organised Immigration Crime Operations for the NCA, Miles Bonfield, said: “ This arrest is hugely significant in terms of what led to the deaths of those migrants, and through close working with our Belgian partners we have been able to track this man down so he can face prosecution in Belgium: “ People smuggling is a vile trade where those involved treat migrants as a commodity to be profited from: “ It requires an international response and, as this case shows, we are working closely with partners in the UK, Europe and beyond to target, disrupt and dismantle these organised criminal networks.”

Eamonn Harrison, a 24-year-old lorry driver from Mayobridge in Northern Ireland, was found guilty of 39 counts of manslaughter and guilty of one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration: Gheorghe Nica, 43, of Mimosa Close in Langdon Hills, was found guilty of the same charges: Christopher Kennedy, 24, of Corkley Road in Darkley, County Armagh, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK immigration law: While Valentin Calota, 38, of Cossingham Road in Birmingham, was found guilty of the same charge: During the investigation, it was discovered that Hughes and Nica had overseen two earlier journeys that month, on 11 and 18 October 2019, in which people had been brought into the country: They were assisted by two other lorry drivers, Harrison and Kennedy, and a number of other drivers who picked up passengers from a pre-arranged drop off site and transported them to locations across London: Nica had previously admitted to his role in the breach of immigration law on those two dates, but had denied his involvement on the 23 October:

NCA Director of Threat Leadership, Rob Jones, said: “The organised criminal groups involved in immigration crime are callous and treat migrants as a commodity to be profited from. Their only motivation is money, they don’t care about the safety or consequences of their actions: “ Tragically in this case the consequences were fatal. I’m pleased that those responsible will now be held accountable for their actions. I hope this outcome brings some comfort to the families of those who died: “ NCA officers in the UK and overseas worked alongside Essex Police throughout this investigation, providing specialist support and assistance. Our international network provided a crucial link to Vietnam and other countries involved in the investigation as it widened: “ We will continue to lead the UK’s fight against organised immigration crime, and my message to those involved in this exploitative trade is simple – we are coming after you. We are using the full range of tools at our disposal to disrupt and dismantle people smuggling networks impacting the UK, no matter where in the world they operate.”

Chief Constable of Essex Police, Ben-Julian Harrington, said of the result: “The men who were found guilty today made their money from misery. They knew what they were doing was wrong, but they didn’t care: “ They tried to hide what they were doing: They attempted to evade detection. They thought they could cover up their crimes. Today, they have been proved wrong on every count: “ Whilst I feel immense pride for the Essex Police teams, and our partners, for this diligent investigation, none of us will stop thinking of the victims and their families. Those family members are, in most cases, halfway across the world, and their lives will never be the same again: “ We will never forget those 39 victims – men, women, and children – who were sold the lie of safe passage to our country. The force made their loved ones a promise in the Book of Condolence shortly after the incident: that we would do everything in our power to bring those responsible for that horrific journey, which ended on our shores, to justice. Essex Police has worked hard to deliver on our promise, and I hope that is of some small comfort.”

Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said: “This was a truly tragic incident. While I’m pleased justice has been served, I know it will come as little comfort to the families of those who died. My thoughts remain with those affected by this tragedy: “ Today’s convictions only strengthen my resolve to do all I can to go after the people smugglers who prey on the vulnerable and trade in human misery. I’m determined to bring callous people smugglers to justice and keep our communities safe from the actions of horrendous organised crime groups: “ I want to thank all the agencies involved in this investigation, specifically Essex Police, the NCA, the Crown Prosecution Service and operational teams in the Home Office for their exemplary professionalism in pursuing convictions. We are fortunate to be served by such outstanding, committed officers, who help keep us safe and support those most in need.”

Those found guilty will be sentenced at a later date alongside those who have already entered guilty pleas to the offences against them: lorry driver Maurice Robinson, transport fixer Ronan Hughes, and drivers Alexandru-Ovidiu Hanga and Gazmir Nuzi:

#AceNewsDesk report …………..Published: Dec.21: 2020:

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