Suspected Vietnamese people smuggler detained in the UK

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Mark White

By Mark White

Published: 09/02/2022

- 14:44

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 12:00

Mai Van Nguyen, 32, from Birmingham was detained in an operation in the Woolton area of Liverpool on Tuesday

A man who is suspected of being a high-ranking member of a Vietnamese people smuggling network has been arrested and charged by the National Crime Agency.

32-year-old Mai Van Nguyen from Birmingham was detained in an operation in the Woolton area of Liverpool on Tuesday morning.

After being questioned by NCA investigators he has now been charged with multiple offences.

The charges include conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

The arrest is the latest phase of an investigation into the smuggling of mainly Vietnamese migrants into the UK in the backs of lorries in August, September and October 2020.

The investigation has already seen a number of others arrested and two men charged.

Ho Sy Quoc, 22, from Handsworth in Birmingham, was arrested in September 2021.

He is due to stand trial at the Birmingham Crown Court on 28 February.

A Bolton taxi driver, accused of working with the same network, has also been charged with people smuggling offences.

32-year-old Karzan Mohammed, from Bolton, is to appear at Wigan magistrates court, charged with conspiring to assist unlawful immigration.

He was arrested by NCA officers in September last year, and was charged when he answered bail last month.

NCA Branch Operations Manager Paul Boniface said:

“This is the latest phase of an ongoing investigation into the activities of a significant smuggling network, bringing people illegally into the UK and then laundering the profits.

“These groups treat people as a commodity to be profited from and are quite happy to put lives at risk. We are determined to do all we can to stop them.”

The NCA is the lead agency responding to organised criminal gangs involved the trafficking and smuggling of people.

While much of the attention has been focused on the growing small boats crisis in the English Channel of late, thousands of people are still smuggled into the UK in the backs of lorries each year.

39 Vietnamese migrants died after suffocating in the back of a refrigerated lorry, which crossed from Zeebrugge to Purfleet in Essex in October 2019.

A number of people have since being prosecuted and jailed in relation to their deaths.

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