A MAN wanted in connection with the smuggling of 39 migrants who were found dead in a lorry in Essex has been arrested at a petrol station.
The Vietnamese migrants were discovered in a refrigerated lorry trailer in Grays on 23 October 2019.
A Vietnamese national, who has not been named but is wanted by Belgian authorities, was detained just off the A66 in Middlesbrough on Thursday.
He is due to appear before magistrates to begin extradition proceedings.
Following a trial at the Old Bailey, four men were jailed in January for manslaughter in connection with the deaths in Essex.
The court was told all on board died having suffocated in the container that travelled from Belgium to Purfleet.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) said Belgian authorities allege the newly-arrested man was a member of a people-smuggling network which moved migrants through Belgium and France and into the UK in the back of lorries.
The NCA’s head of organised immigration crime operations, Miles Bonfield, said the man was suspected of “having played a key role in placing at least 10 migrants inside that lorry”.
He added: “Working closely with partners in the UK, Europe and beyond we are determined to do all we can to get justice for the families of those who died, and disrupt and dismantle the cruel organised criminal networks involved in people smuggling.”