Statement by Essex Police Chief Constable, BJ Harrington
“Fourteen months ago, in October 2019, I made a promise.
I promised Essex Police would do everything in its power to catch and convict the criminals responsible for the horrific journey of 39 Vietnamese people who tragically died on our shoes.
I wrote that promise in a Book of Condolence at the offices of Thurrock Council, a few streets away from where those men, women and children were discovered.
That book is eight thousand miles away in Vietnam near the families of those who died, but I am proud to say that Essex Police and our partners have kept our promise.
Today, we have secured justice for 39 innocent people and their loved ones.
We’ve caught and convicted the ringleaders of the criminal group which brought them to our county.
They thought they could commit the most appalling crimes.
They thought they could hide and lie and they thought they could get away with it.
Today, we proved them wrong.
Officers, staff and volunteers from Essex Police, the National Crime Agency and the Crown Prosecution Service have worked tirelessly on this investigation since the early hours of 23rd October 2019.
I cannot thank them enough for their dedication.
I also want to thank the families of those 39 victims, they have kept their dignity and grace in the most unimaginable of circumstances and under the burden of inconsolable grief.
There’s another big thank you I need to do – and it’s to the members of the public, and not just those here in Essex.
Whether you picked up the phone to us, spoke to an officer in person, or left us an anonymous tip – your help has been invaluable in putting together some of the pieces of this puzzle.
I know there were a lot of people who were scared to come forward – maybe scared of what would happen if they talked to the police.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being so brave and for placing your trust in us.
You’ve helped us to stop the perpetrators of this vile crime from harming anyone else.
The men who were found guilty today made their money from misery.
They tried to hide what they were doing. They attempted to evade detection. They thought they could cover up their crimes.
They have been proved wrong on every count.
There are 39 families still grieving. Their pain may never go away. I hope, together, that we have offered them some comfort with today’s result. Our thoughts will always be with them.