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Albanians and Romanians charged after people smuggling probe into lorries and Channel crossings

FOUR men, including two illegal immigrants, have been charged as part of an investigation targeting people smugglers sending people to the UK hidden in lorries and across the Channel on small boats.

Two Albanian brothers, Arben Cakici, 48, and Astrit Cakici, 37, from Barking and Newham, east London, who were living illegally in the UK, have been charged with facilitating illegal entry into the UK and possessing a firearm. Arben also faces a charge for carrying a knife.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) made a series of arrests on Friday (October 16) after witnessing what is believed to have been a handover of four migrants from a lorry into two cars, near the A2 Cobham Services, in Kent at around 8am.

Two Romanian lorry drivers arrested at the scene, Ionut Colibei, 34, and Valerica Prutearu, 41, are also charged with facilitating illegal entry into the UK.

Colibei was also charged for being in possession of a knife.

The four men will appear at a virtual court on Monday [October 19]. 

Searches in Newham on Friday also led to a further arrest of a 45-year old man from Albania, wanted for unrelated offences.

The four Albanian migrants, aged between 20 to 35, who were arrested on Friday are now being dealt with by Immigration Enforcement.

SEIZED: A boat linked the the Channel investigation confiscated in September at St Margaret's Bay (NCA)

A 30-year-old male arrested in Hastings, East Sussex, (top image) as part of a separate NCA operation, who is suspected of supplying small boats to aid people smugglers in France, has been released under investigation.

NCA officers detained the man at around 9am on Friday.

Shortly afterwards a property on Battle Road was searched. The operation was supported by officers from Sussex Police.

An NCA spokesman said: "The NCA investigation relates to the sale and distribution of vessels sourced in the UK, and subsequently taken to France to be used in cross-Channel facilitation attempts.

"Officers suspect the individual concerned of being linked to a number of vessels which have been used in crossings by migrants.

"One such vessel was recovered from St Margaret’s Bay in Kent on September 2, a day in which around 400 people reached the UK using small boats.

"The investigation is being supported by Project Invigor, the immigration crime taskforce led by the NCA, but also including Immigration Enforcement, Border Force and the CPS, and also French law enforcement."


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