A MAN wanted by the Belgian authorities for his role in a people smuggling plot that led to the discovery of the bodies of 39 people in a lorry in West Thurrock has had his extradition ordered.
Vietnamese national Alex Tran, 18, was detained by National Crime Agency officers at a supermarket petrol station near Middlesbrough on 17 June this year.
The National Crime Agency previously said Tran played a “key role” in putting at least 10 migrants in the refrigerated lorry trailer that was transported by ferry from Zeebrugge to Purfleet in October 2019.
Belgian prosecutors allege Tran was a member of a people smuggling network moving migrants through Belgium and France and then into the UK. A Belgian investigating magistrate issued an arrest warrant in December 2020.
Today (Thursday, 2 December) Westminster Magistrates Court approved his extradition. He was remanded in custody, and has seven days to appeal.
The NCA’s Head of Organised Immigration Crime Operations, Martin Grace, said: “This operation demonstrates our determination to get justice for those who died in October 2019 and track down all of those who played a role in the incident.
“It has been another example of our close co-operation with international partners to tackle organised immigration crime, which remains a priority for the NCA.”
The extradition follows the conviction of seven people in the UK for their roles in the events which led to the deaths, including four men who were found guilty of manslaughter. They were Gheorghe Nica, 44, from Basildon, and Ronan Hughes, 42, of Armagh, and lorry drivers Maurice Robinson, 27, of Craigavon, and Eamonn Harrison, 24, of County Down.
All seven were jailed in January 2021.
Another man wanted by the Belgians in connection with the case, Ngo Sy Tai, was extradited in November, having been arrested by the NCA in Worcestershire in December 2020.