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Irishmen charged with people-smuggling conspiracy

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Two Irishmen have been charged with conspiracy to facilitate illegal immigration after 10 migrants were found in a lorry in Belgium last Thursday.

Wayne Sherlock (39) and Eoin Nowlan (48), from Dover in the UK, appeared at Canterbury Magistrates' Court yesterday and were remanded in custody.

Four men were arrested as part of a UK National Crime Agency investigation into a crime group suspected of transporting migrants into the UK in the back of lorries.

As well as Mr Sherlock and Mr Nowlan, the lorry driver (64) and a man (30) in Co Antrim were arrested last Friday. The lorry driver has been remanded in custody and the man from Co Antrim has been released on bail.

Last Thursday, two adults and eight children from south-east Asia were found in the back of a lorry carrying tyres near Ghent in Belgium.

The driver was arrested and the following day the two Irishmen and a man from Co Antrim were also arrested and held in custody.

Properties in Northern Ireland and Kent were also searched and two suspected firearms were seized in Kent.

"Our close working with our Belgian partners in this instance has led to the safeguarding of a number of migrants who had been put in a very dangerous situation, and we are grateful for their support," said Gerry McLean, UK National Crime Agency regional head of investigation.

"We have seen only recently in Essex the tragic consequences which these types of attempts can have."

West Flanders prosecutor Frank Demeester said human trafficking using lorries was "very dangerous".

"This kind of human smuggling is very dangerous, and the operation proves once more that international cooperation works in the fight against this type of organised crime," he said.

"In the fight against human smuggling, the UK is obviously an important partner as being the country of destination."

Sunday Independent