Two Hartlepool men charged as part of international people smuggling investigation
Two Hartlepool men are among six suspects charged as part of a major investigation into an alleged people smuggling racket.
The group, aged between 27 and 47, were all arrested during a series of raids carried out by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and policing partners in February 2018.
Five of the men are from the North-East of England while the other is from London.
The Hartlepool men are aged 40 and 27.
Following “a long and complex investigation”, all six are due to appear before Newcastle-upon-Tyne Magistrates Court on Thursday.
They stand accused of being part of a Kurdish network which would use lorries to transport people from France, Belgium and the Netherlands into the United Kingdom.
A number of HGVs were intercepted on their way.
The NCA says Iraqi-Turkish migrants would be charged between £5,000 and £10,000 for that leg of the journey.
Its regional head of investigation, Mark Spoors, said: “This has been a long and complex investigation, involving partners from across Europe, including law enforcement agencies in France, Belgium and the Netherlands as well as here in the UK.
“Since the operation which saw the arrests took place we have worked patiently and diligently to build up evidence which has now led to these charges being authorised by the CPS.”
Speaking about the NCA’s ongoing work in general, he added: “We remain determined to disrupt and dismantle organised crime networks involved in people smuggling.”
The NCA investigation has been supported by Project Invigor, the UK organised immigration crime taskforce led by the NCA but also including officers from Immigration, Enforcement, Border Force and the CPS.
In the UK, Cleveland, Northumbria, Durham, Sussex and the Metropolitan police forces have also assisted.