Friday 24 March 2017

All you need to know about the alleged immigrant smuggling ring at Dublin Airport

Aer Lingus planes. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Aer Lingus planes. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Aer Lingus is hitting headlines as it has been revealed two employees were arrested in relation to an international illegal immigrant smuggling network through Dublin Airport.

Here is everything you need to know:

1. What is going on?

Two Aer Lingus employees were among three men arrested by gardai last night in an investigation into international illegal immigrant smuggling network through Dublin Airport. The third man arrested is a "potential illegal immigrant who illegally entered the state" and was facilitated by the two suspects.

The three men, aged 28, 56 and 61, were arrested at Dublin Airport and are being detained at Ballymun and Coolock garda stations.

2. What is the background?

The employees are suspected of using catering vehicles to move illegal immigrants directly from planes that landed in Dublin Airport to a car-park outside the facility.

Gardai believe that the scam has been ongoing for a number of years and more than 500 people have been smuggled into Ireland this way.

It is believed that those involved in the smuggling operation could have been charging between €10,000 and €30,000 for illegal immigrants to be brought to Ireland.

Immigrants from all over the world are believed to have arrived in Ireland illegally during its years in operation.

3. Have Aer Lingus responded?

Yes. A spokesperson released a statement this morning, reading: "Aer Lingus can confirm that two of its employees have been arrested by an Garda Siochana at Dublin Airport. Aer Lingus is co-operating fully with an Garda Siochana in their investigation.

"As this is an on-going criminal investigation we have no further comment to make."

4. Has there been any political reaction?

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald welcomed the arrests.

"What's important is that it is fully investigated and any breaches, if there are breaches, are examined fully and that we get to the facts in relation to this," she said.

"I welcome the work of An Garda Siochana in dealing with this issue but, as I say, this is an international issue. We work on this day-in, day-out in relation to our borders and our airports.

"It's very early in the investigation. Let's see what facts emerge.  Let's see what the lessons are from this. There's a full garda investigation underway and we have to wait the outcome of that to see where the facts lead us."

5. What was involved in the investigation?

Gardaí intensified their investigation during recent changes at Dublin Airport at the immigration desks.

Assistant Garda Commissioner John O'Driscoll said the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration control booth provided information which it gleans through immigration control to An Garda Siochana.

6. What's next?

Gardaí are now searching safe houses and a number of homes in Dublin this afternoon. Detectives are also searching cars, trucks and airport vehicles and are attempting to follow the money trail by examining bank accounts.

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