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Monday, 19 June, 2000, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Secret agents to hunt traffickers
Dover Docks
Bodies were found in a lorry at Dover Docks
MI5 and MI6 agents are expected to infiltrate criminal gangs responsible for smuggling people into the UK.

The National Crime Squad (NCS) confirmed on Monday that officers from both agencies will be drafted in to target traffickers.


Behind these events are some very evil and ruthless people

National Crime Squad
The NCS will spearhead operations involving the police, Immigration Service, the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), Customs and the security services.

There will also be increased co-operation with European colleagues, said NCS director general Roy Penrose, who visited Europol officials at their headquarters in The Hague on Friday.

'Tragic incident'

"The tragic incident at Dover further concentrates all our minds on the danger and misery caused by those who traffic in people for profit," he said.

"Behind these events are some very evil and ruthless people, who often smuggle other commodities too, including drugs, and are actively involved in international organised crime.

"Our two sets of operational plans are aimed at taking the initiative away from them, bringing together all the good work already done by all the law enforcement and intelligence agencies."

The move followed the discovery at Dover on Monday of 58 bodies in a Dutch-registered lorry. It is believed the victims were of Chinese origin.

Ruthless trade

Smuggling people into the UK is a multi-million pound business.

It is believed many illegal immigrants from China are used as slave labour in restaurants in London.

Docks of Dover
The bodies of 58 people were found in a lorry in Dover on Monday
Home Secretary Jack Straw said there was highly organised trafficking of illegal immigrants from the People's Republic of China.

He told the BBC the immigrants were "in the grip of some pretty unpleasant people and they pay a lot of money up front".

Roger King, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said those responsible were "sophisticated, organised criminals" and should be tackled as such.

"They will stop at nothing. They're almost terrorists in their own right.

"They threaten and they use every technique to get their 'clients' on board those lorries."

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