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A man who is suspected of being a high-ranking member of a Vietnamese people smuggling network has been arrested by the National Crime Agency.

32-year-old Mai Van Nguyen, of Holloway Circus, Birmingham, was detained in an operation in the Woolton area of Liverpool on Tuesday morning (8 February).

After being questioned by NCA investigators he was charged with the offences of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering and is now due to appear before Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday (9 February).

The arrest is the latest phase of an investigation into the smuggling of mainly Vietnamese migrants into the UK in the backs of lorries in August, September and October 2020.

The investigation has already seen a number of others arrested and two men charged.

Ho Sy Quoc, aged 22, of Handsworth, Birmingham, was arrested in September 2021. He is due to stand trial at the city’s Crown Court on 28 February.

Meanwhile a Bolton taxi driver accused of working with the same network has also been charged with people smuggling offences.

32-year-old Karzan Mohammed, of Brandwood Street, Daubhill, will appear before Wigan Magistrates today (9 February) charged with conspiring to assist unlawful immigration. He was arrested by NCA officers in September last year, and was charged when he answered bail last month.

NCA Branch Operations Manager Paul Boniface said:

“This is the latest phase of an ongoing investigation into the activities of a significant smuggling network, bringing people illegally into the UK and then laundering the profits.

“These groups treat people as a commodity to be profited from and are quite happy to put lives at risk. We are determined to do all we can to stop them.”

The NCA leads the law enforcement response to the organised criminality involved in the trafficking and smuggling of people impacting upon the UK.

The agency investigates the highest harm criminal networks, and currently has around 50 ongoing investigations into networks or individuals in the top tier of organised immigration crime or human trafficking.