Following a joint investigation between the UK Border Agency and Italian police, a Turin based gang suspected of helping dozens of Albanian migrants attempt to reach the UK illegally has been dismantled.
The gang were charging their clients up to 5,000 Euros(£4,300) for a package of falsified Italian identity documents and flight tickets.
It is believed these would be used to board planes to Stansted, Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester from regional airports in Italy, with the eventual intention of working illegally in the UK.
Working with the Italian authorities, UK Border Agency officers from the risk and liaison overseas network (RALON) tracked the migrants, and had already prevented around 40 Albanian nationals from boarding flights.
On 17 February, following an 18 month investigation initiated by UK Border Agency officers in London and Italy and the Italian border police in Turin, 2 Albanian men aged 52 and 26, believed to be the gang’s ringleaders, were arrested by the Italian authorities. They remain in custody. Another 28 suspected collaborators were cautioned pending further investigation.
Simon Cooper, assistant director, UK Border Agency said:
“These arrests are the culmination of a successful investigation involving UK Border Agency officers working in close collaboration the Italian police. We believe this operation will have a significant impact on the network involved.”
“We continue to work in close partnership with law enforcement partners at home and overseas to tackle illegal immigration and the criminal gangs behind it.”
“Anyone involved in bringing illegal immigrants into Britain should know they will be targeted and brought to justice – wherever they are.”
The UK Border Agency’s risk and liaison overseas network (RALON) links with agencies at home and abroad to tackle immigration abuse and works with airlines to prevent the carriage of inadequately documented passengers.