Alleged ringleader of people smuggling group arrested in Sheffield 

Saleh is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on December 21 for an extradition hearing
Saleh is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on December 21 for an extradition hearing

The alleged ringleader of an organised crime group thought to be behind attempts to smuggle migrants into the UK has been arrested in Sheffield 

Sudanese national Abdulrahman Omer Saleh, 29, was arrested in Sheffield earlier this month, as part of a joint UK-Belgian investigation into a Sudanese and Eritrean crime group believed to be smuggling migrants into the UK, often using refrigerated lorries. 

This comes after a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) was issued by Belgian authorities.

Saleh is believed to have entered the UK illegally in August this year. 

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He appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court yesterday, when he was remanded into custody ahead of a full extradition hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on December 21. 

A National Crime Agency spokesman said: “Prosecutors in Belgium believe Saleh has been involved in at least 18 smuggling operations to date whereby the migrants pay the crime group between 500 and 2,500 euros per person to enter the UK illegally.

“The migrants would be instructed to take a train from Brussels to the town of Jemelle and then walk 15 kilometres to the E411 motorway, where they would be collected by trucks and transported to the UK via the Channel ports. 

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“Saleh has been in custody following his arrest on November 13 in Sheffield by NCA officers from Project Invigor – the NCA-led Organised Immigration Crime Taskforce. 

“The migrants would be instructed to take a train from Brussels to the town of Jemelle and then walk 15 kilometres to the E411 motorway, where they would be collected by trucks and transported to the UK via the Channel ports.
 
Chris Hogben, NCA lead for Project Invigor, said: “Organised criminals involved in people smuggling treat humans as just another commodity they can make money out of, with little or no regard for their safety. 

“The criminal network in this case made migrants walk along a motorway before travelling hundreds of miles in freezing refrigerated lorries.

“Through our close working with the Belgian Federal Police and prosecutors, Saleh will now face the face the courts in Belgium.”

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