Six thousand Ukrainians have been illegally smuggled into Britain via ferries from Ireland, Spanish police have revealed.
Spain’s national police force announced yesterday that they had smashed the biggest people-smuggling ring transporting Ukrainians into the European Union and to their final destination of Britain.
The gang successfully introduced 6,000 Ukrainians into Britain by issuing the immigrants with false ID documents and flying them into Ireland before catching a ferry to reach UK soil, police allege.
“The candidates were selected from Ukrainian citizens with economic problems, family responsibilities and the intention of leaving the country and travelling to the United Kingdom in search of a better future,” a police statement said.
The immigrants passed through Poland and several other EU countries which make up the Schengen area before flying to Ireland.
A total of 115 people have been arrested, all of whom are Ukrainian citizens, including the alleged ringleader who was living in Barcelona with his girlfriend.
Police said they found more than 100 false Polish ID cards and passports in the couple’s home.
Two other alleged people smugglers were arrested in Poland and a man who was based in Romania.
First, the victims were taken from Ukraine into neighbouring Poland, where they would be given fake IDs, normally Polish but sometimes passports from other Baltic states.
With these documents, the migrants could obtain Schengen passports allowing them to fly to other European Union states.
The modus operandi was for the migrants to fly to other Schengen-area countries, such as Spain or France, before taking a flight for Ireland or, occasionally, directly into Britain.