People smugglers who brought TEN THOUSAND migrants to England are arrested in dawn raids across Europe
A 'highly lucrative' smuggling operation which illegally shipped 10,000 people across the English Channel has been crushed following the 'biggest ever' internationally coordinated crackdown of its kind, spanning five European countries.
Officers in Belgium, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Germany staged dawn raids involving 'hundreds of officers', according to police in the northwestern German city of Osnabrueck, considered a major hub for the illegal networks.
According the the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA), officers arrested six men and a woman in the Docklands and Catford areas of London as part of the police operation on Tuesday.
They included a 26-year-old man, who was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration, in Rushey Green, Catford, alongside a 22-year-old man in St Davids Square, on the Isle of Dogs.
A 20-year-old woman and 18-year-old man were also detained, on suspicion of possessing class A drugs with intent to supply, after a quantity of what is suspected to be cocaine was found. They remain in custody and are being questioned by NCA investigators.
Two other men were arrested for immigration offences and will now be dealt with by the immigration authorities.
The NCA said: 'Officers have today joined what is believed to be the biggest ever international operation targeting criminal networks suspected of using small boats to smuggle thousands of people into the UK.'
Police in Germany earlier said there were 'numerous searches and arrests in several states', coordinated by Europol and the EU's judicial agency Eurojust.
Many of the suspects in the country were Iraqi-Kurdish and were feared to have been 'armed and dangerous', leading to the deployment of special forces to various warehouses and private addresses, reported Der Spiegel.
News of the raids came as Home Secretary Priti Patel announced her latest measure to tackle the scourge of illegal immigration, which will reportedly see the creation of a 'league table' of nations based on their level of co-operation in accepting criminals and failed asylum seekers from the UK.
Meanwhile her controversial Rwanda policy, which promises to fly those arriving illegally to Britain to the east African country, has failed to get off the ground following a slew of legal challenges.
Germany's Der Spiegel reported that the operation targeted organised groups taking migrants to England.
It quoted Osnabrueck police as saying that the network had smuggled up to 10,000 people via the Channel in the last 12 to 18 months in a highly lucrative scheme.