The latest in a series of road safety operations by police in Essex resulted in more than even they bargained for as 13 illegal immigrants were found in a lorry.
Operation Mermaid was conducted at Thurrock’s MOTO Services on Thursday, June 21, with officers stopping 23 lorries and two vans.
A total of £1,700 in roadside fines was issued during the day for an array of motoring offences. Lorry drivers were again found to have been on the roads for a dangerously-high number of hours, with 11 prosecuted for being a total of 98 hours over their allocated time.
HMRC seized one overweight van as it was carrying too much beer, with no the driver / company fined £400 for being overweight and on the road.
The final vehicle of the operation proved to be the most fruitful. A 40-tonne lorry from the Republic of Ireland was stopped by officers. As the Polish driver was being spoken to by officers, banging could be heard from the trailer. As this was opened up, 12 illegal immigrants were found inside – seven from Vietnam, four from Iran and one from Iraq. They were all arrested, along with the driver, and later handed over to the UK Border Agency to process.