MARIUS DRAGHICI: Romanian national sought by police over lorry deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants




DETECTIVES who continue to investigate the tragic deaths of 39 Vietnamese nationals in Essex in October 2019 are working alongside international partners to locate this Romanian man suspected of being involved in the conspiracy but who remains outstanding.

The tragic discovery was made in the early hours of Wednesday 23 October 2019, when the Vietnamese men, women and children were found unresponsive in the trailer of a lorry by its driver, in Eastern Avenue, Grays, Essex.

The lorry had travelled from Zeebrugge in Belgium to the Port of Purfleet, in Essex.

Each of the victims, and their families, had paid significant sums of money to an organised criminal group whose members promised them safe passage to the UK and a life there.

However, that promise turned to tragedy and the victims suffocated in the back of the lorry which was being driven by Northern Irishman Maurice Robinson.

After an extensive investigation, ten people, including Robinson, have so far been sentenced for their roles in the deaths of the 39 people. Their sentences total almost 100 years.

As part of a joint operation with the international partners, we now want to trace Romanian national Marius Mihai Draghici, 48, (above) who we want to speak to in connection with our suspected manslaughter investigation and suspected immigration offences.

He is suspected of being part of the network which co-ordinated immigrants’ journeys to the UK both in connection with the deaths and on a number of occasions prior to 23 October 2019.

Draghici also goes by the aliases Marius Mihai Selaru and Marius Lupu and was born in the Romanian city, Onesti.

We know he has specific connections in the Bacau area of Romania as well as in Spain. He is also known to work in the haulage industry.

Efforts to trace him through a number of tactics are ongoing but we now want the help of the Romanian and Spanish public to identify him.

Today we are releasing his picture alongside CCTV footage him, which we hope will help people to identify him.

We are also working with independent charity Crimestoppers in the hope of obtaining a reward for information on Draghici.

And we will also be working with partners to get our appeal to the public in Romania and Spain.

Detective Chief Inspector Louise Metcalfe, who is leading our investigation said: “The investigation into the tragic deaths of the 39 Vietnamese nationals is the most complex ever undertaken by Essex Police.

“So far, we have brought ten people to justice and achieved prison sentences of almost 100 years in total. But we made a promise to the families of those who lost their lives in Essex in October 2019 that we would not stop until justice has been delivered in its entirety.

“Marius Draghici remains an outstanding suspect and, just as we have promised and already delivered on, our pursuit for justice will not stop at our borders and frontiers.

“I would like to appeal to the public in Romania and indeed in Spain; help us locate Marius Draghici. He is 48-years-old, was born in Onesti and is known to have strong connections to the Bacau area of the country. We also believe he is known in the haulage industry.

“Please look closely at his picture, have you seen him? Do you know him – perhaps by a different name? If you do, please let us know.

“Draghici is wanted in connection with a very serious offence. We strongly believe he is linked to the conspiracy which tragically ripped apart the families of the 39 innocent Vietnamese men, women and children who died on our shores in 2019. The actions we believe he is responsible for cannot go unpunished.

“I would urge anyone with information to please get in touch.”

We’re launching this appeal on the same day we have welcomed an official Vietnamese delegation (above) to Essex Police headquarters where they have met with senior officers as well as the team of detectives who continue to investigate the incident.

Chief Superintendent Stuart Hooper, who has overseen our investigation, said: “We continue to have a really strong relationship with our Vietnamese partners, and we’ve kept them, and the families of our victims, informed every step of the way.

“Today, they have been briefed on the very latest and, as they always have been, they remain incredibly supportive of our work.”

Ch Supt Hooper added: “We have lived up to our promise of delivering justice but there is one final piece of that jigsaw to be completed.

“We’ll be working with international partners and other agencies in order to make sure our appeal is heard far and wide.

“We are committed to tracking down every individual we believe to be connected to this most horrific of crimes.”