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Albanian OCG dismantled thanks to joint Op with Spain

The NCA had been part of a joint operation with the Spanish Guardia Civil.

An Albanian OCG involved in smuggling migrants to the UK via Spain has been dismantled following a joint operation.

The network had facilitated the travel of mainly Albanian migrants through Bilbao and Santander into the UK using ferries and freight shipping routes to Portsmouth, Southampton and Liverpool.

Spanish prosecutors described the gang as high level and well-organised and the gang provided migrants with accommodation and food while in Spain.

Each are believed to have paid between €3,000 and €15,000.

50 individuals have been identified as having made the crossing but the true number is unknown.

NCA officers in Spain and the UK have worked with the Guardia Civil for over a year on the operation.

Between October 3-5 seven arrests were made – two in Madrid and five more in the Basque region.

NCA International Regional Manager Steve Reynolds said: “People smugglers put lives at risk, which is why disrupting and dismantling criminal networks like this is a priority for the NCA and our partners.

“In this case we were faced with a crime group who were prepared to smuggle migrants in lorries over one of the longer ferry and freight crossings into the UK. The dangers of that are self-evident.

“Working closely with our Spanish counterparts we have been able to dismantle their operation and prevent further lives being put at risk.

“This operation demonstrates how the NCA is determined to take action against people smugglers at every step of the route towards the UK, including upstream in transit countries like Spain.”

Back in August, the then Home Secretary Priti Patel had suggested that a deal had been struck with the Albanian government that could see Albanian police working alongside UK authorities at the border.

It followed nearly 6,000 Albanians crossing the Channel between January and August this year.

Police Oracle understands that the ISU union, who represent the Border Force, has not received an update on that proposal since.

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