|A young boy is carried by a Border Force officer as a group of people thought to be migrants are brought into Dover earlier this week (Image: PA)|
Cops have arrested 11 suspected members of an organised crime gang that trafficked illegal immigrants across the Channel.
Officers swooped on 11 addresses in London and one in Sheffield, seizing £150,000 and two vehicles.
The raids came after months of planning by the Met Police, National Crime Agency, Border Force and French police.
The suspects are accused of financing boat crossings and promoting them to migrants hoping to reach the UK.
Matthew Long, deputy director of the National Crime Agency, said yesterday: “Those who profit from misery should be ready to be brought to justice.”
Ten of the suspects were taken to Wembley police station on Tuesday and released under investigation pending further inquiries. The eleventh was held on Thursday.
Immigration minister Chris Philp, who attended a raid, said: “This action shows that we have the intelligence and capability to track down anyone involved in people trafficking and make sure their assets are stripped.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I will put whatever resource is necessary to dismantle these gangs and stop these dangerous crossings, including going after the groups financing these operations.”
Almost 3,200 migrants have reached the UK in about 235 small boats this year, according to BBC research.
Ms Patel met the new French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin earlier this month to discuss how to deal with it.
A Franco-British Operational Research Unit is to be established to combat migrant crossings.
The Home Office said the new unit would collate, centralise and analyse operational intelligence to prevent crossings from taking place and to dismantle the gangs behind them.
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