Police have arrested a man after an Afghan Sikh was found dead and 34 other people suffering from dehydration were rescued from a shipping container in Essex.
Detectives in Northern Ireland seized the 34-year-old man from Limavady this afternoon on suspicion of manslaughter and facilitating illegal entry into the United Kingdom.
They were acting on information from Essex police officers investigating the death of Meet Singh Kapoor, 40, from Afghanistan, who was found in a container at Tilbury Docks on Saturday. The man held is to be transported across the Irish Sea for questioning.
Acting Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore, of Essex Police, said: “This is a fast-moving investigation which has already involved a number of police forces and law enforcement agencies from across the United Kingdom and Europe. I am very grateful to officers from the PSNI for their assistance. We will continue to work closely with all of our policing colleagues as we pursue our investigation to bring those responsible to justice.”
Video: Footage from the container found at Tilbury
Meanwhile, in Somerset, police arrested a German man when officers pulled over a lorry containing 15 people suffering from dehydration, including men, women and a 15-year-old boy. They are thought to be from Eritrea and Kashmir. The unidentified man was arrested on suspicion of facilitating the unlawful entry of people into the UK after the lorry was intercepted on the A303 near Ilminster.
The arrests come days after 34 Sikhs hailing from Afghanistan were discovered after border officials heard “screaming and banging” from a ship which had originated from Zeebrugge in Belgium.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Border and immigration officers are supporting Avon and Somerset Police as they investigate the discovery of 15 individuals in a lorry in Ilminster.
“We continue to work closely with law enforcement agencies both here and in Europe to target the organised crime gangs behind the majority of people-smuggling.
“These criminals are constantly modifying their tactics in an attempt to evade strengthened border controls and we are seeing increasingly dangerous methods being used, including the use of sealed or refrigerated vehicles.
“We would warn those who are tempted to put their lives in the hands of organised smugglers, that they are putting themselves and their families at risk.”
The group of Afghans, including 13 children, were discovered trapped inside a shipping container at Tilbury Docks at the weekend.
The survivors claimed they were locked inside the sealed container for 18 hours from Belgium to the UK and were running out of oxygen.
A police translator heard how the 15 families were packed into the container after fleeing to escape persecution. The survivors have claimed asylum, according to the Home Office.
Mr Kapoor, travelling with his wife and two sons, was dead on arrival. A post mortem examination failed to establish how he died.