Saturday, June 15, 2024

Crackdown on immigration crime launched following lorry deaths

The bodies were discovered in the lorry in the early hours of 23 October 2019

A POLICE team launched in the wake of the deaths of 39 migrants found in the back of a lorry in 2019 is aiming to make sure such a tragedy is never repeated.

Operation Bluebird was launched in March 2020 and responds to any incidence of organized crime.
Outlining the work of Operation Bluebird to Thurrock’s hidden and extreme harms prevention committee on Tuesday, Det Insp Chris Rose said it was the first of its type in the country.

Officers are vetted to a high level and based within the Serious Crime Directorate, with access to specialist covert tactics

The aim is to disrupt and prosecute crime involving drugs, money laundering or firearms offences linked to immigration crime as well human trafficking.

Mr Rose there had been a downward trend of organised immigration crime incidents in Essex between August 2021 and August 2022 but he said he expected numbers to escalate this winter as the channel crossing becomes more hazardous inland drops will be utilized by gangs.

Asked if the teams had discovered any firearms. Mr Rose said: “Not in Thurrock, but my team have been responsible for recovering a hand gun nearby in one of the neighbouring districts. What we find with these organised crime groups is they will trade in commodities. These can be human and they can be drugs, guns and currency. It’s whatever they can make a profit out of so what we are looking for are these organised crime groups that are using people smuggling as business model and then we will take them on.”

Operation Melrose investigated the terrible event where 31 men and eight women – including a 15-year-old child were found in a sealed lorry container in Purfleet.

Gary Collins, chairman of the committee said; “Operation Melrose basically grew from nothing. We were under the illusion there was no human traffic going on through our ports. We were very proud of that then we found 39 people dead in a lorry. It’s kudos to Essex Police and all the people who worked on Melrose who went from a standing start to putting a very specialist team and system on closing these people traffickers down.”
Mr Rose said everything his teams were now doing was “because of the Melrose legacy”.


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