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EuropeLogisticsModesNewsTrucking

Driver arrested after 39 bodies found in truck container (With Video)

U.K. police have launched a murder investigation after the bodies of 39 people were found inside a truck container on an industrial estate in southern England.

Police reported that everyone inside the container – 38 adults and one teenager – was found dead, adding that identifying the victims would be a “lengthy process” and their nationality was unknown.

The truck’s driver, a 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland, has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Police believe the truck traveled from Bulgaria and entered the U.K. on October 19 via the Welsh port of Holyhead, a major roll-on/roll-off entry point for traffic from Ireland. The truck and bodies were discovered by police shortly before 01:40 BST at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex.

Early indications point to human trafficking by criminal gangs as the cause of the deaths. Indeed, the National Crime Agency (NCA) has sent officers to assist the investigation into the 39 deaths with a remit of identifying any involvement by criminal gangs.

“We are working with partners including Essex Police and Immigration Enforcement to provide specialist support to urgently identify and take action against any organised crime groups who have played a role in causing these deaths,” a spokesperson told FreightWaves.

If the deaths are proven to be the result of people smuggling, the words of Duncan Buchanan, policy director at the Road Haulage Association (RHA), a U.K.-based trucking representative body, will be proven sadly prescient.

Speaking to FreightWaves earlier in October, Buchanan predicted a rise in human trafficking and the targeting of trucking by criminal gangs ahead of the scheduled exit from the EU of the U.K. on October 31 after when checks at U.K. ports are expected to be tightened.

“We’re in a situation now that 40, 50, 100 miles away from the main exit points of the EU there are migrants trying to get into vehicles,” he said. “It’s a serious problem. It hasn’t gone away; in fact, there has been an increase because the smugglers have been saying Britain is going to be ‘closed’ after October 31.”

Seamus Leheny, Northern Ireland policy manager for the Freight Transport Association (FTA), told the BBC that if the truck discovered this morning is found to have originated in Bulgaria, getting into Britain via Holyhead was an “unorthodox route.”

He added that, after reports of increased security checks at Dover and Calais, “it might be seen as an easier way to get in by going from Cherbourg or Roscoff, over to Rosslare, then up the road to Dublin” and then across to Wales and into England.

Arrests related to human trafficking to the U.K. are certainly on the rise. On October 21 the NCA reported the arrest of five men suspected of hiding migrants in a cattle truck in a bid to smuggle them into the U.K. The arrests followed the discovery of 13 migrants, including one child, found in a hay compartment on a lorry carrying livestock in the port of Calais, France, on October 19.

“Border Force officers had searched the vehicle acting on information from the NCA,” said an NCA statement. “After the search the lorry driver, a British national, was detained by the French authorities.”

Four more men, aged between 23 and 39, were then arrested by the NCA on suspicion of facilitating immigration in a series of raids in Romford and Brentwood, also located in the county of Essex, just a 30-minute drive from where the 39 people were found dead this morning.

Richard Burnett, RHA chief executive, said the investigation into the 39 deaths was ongoing and “our thoughts are with the families of those who have lost their lives.”

He added, “Whatever the circumstances of this tragedy it highlights the danger of migrant gangs’ people smuggling on lorries.”

A representative of the FTA added that migrants were currently targeting all Northern European ports, not just Calais in France.

“FTA is calling for the government to maintain close contact with its European counterparts to ensure security systems are maintained,” added the representative. “The safety of both the drivers and migrants must be protected. Our thoughts are with the families of those who have lost their lives so tragically.”

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12 Comments

  1. Google this :
    Essex lorry deaths: 39 bodies found in refrigerated trailer

    The article provided through my link above is a lot more detailed and you can see a picture of the truck driver .

  2. Based on the article per the headline I have posted in my prior comment I have a few questions that come to mind .

    1- Since the refrigerated “Trailer” was shipped by “sea” via ferry from Zeebrugge Belgium and arrived at the Purfleet ferry terminal , clearly there was no “Tractor” attached .

    My questions concerning my statement above are :
    A- Was the reefer running ?
    B- Did the trailer doors have a seal ?

    2- According to the statements in the article , they believe that the “Tractor” unit collected the “Trailer” from the Purfleet Ferry Terminal and left at at 1:05 am , apparently thirty five minutes after the “Trailer” it arrived at the Purfleet Ferry Terminal . It is also stated that the “Force” ,I assume that’s means police, believe that the Tractor unit had come from Northern Ireland .

    Therefore according to what is being reported , the “Truck Driver’s” only contact with that trailer was at the Purfleet Ferry Terminal . I assume he had a BOL(Bill Of Lading) in order to pick it up and transport it legally .

    If there was a “seal” on the trailer doors he most likely could not know what was in the trailer aside from relying on the BOL .
    My question based on what I have stated above is : How then can the “Truck Driver” be accused of murder ???

    There’s a lot of holes in the story being reported . That being said , Are ports and or ships not responsible for verifying(security checks) what containers and or trailers contain before boarding them ? Or is everyone given orders to simply rely and have faith on what is inscribed on a BOL ?

    I believe it starts at the Port . I also believe Ports have been compromised . I also believe that ships/ferries are not checked as much as they should be by authorities , and once again authorities themselves need to be checked due to potential compromise due to potential infiltration etc .

    In conclusion : Once again the “Truck Driver” is the one being vilified and accused without direct evidence . And thus once again the media et Al tarnish Truck driver reputation .

    In my humble opinion …………

  3. Furthermore according to another article , the bodies were found frozen to death .

    Quote:
    “Police probe suspected Irish people-smuggling ring after 39 migrants are found frozen to death ”

    From my perspective this strongly suggests that the “reefer” was indeed refrigerating the trailer before the truck driver picked up the trailer at the Purfleet Ferry Terminal .

    With mistakes committed by journalists and in authority reports its not so simple to obtain the full and accurate story .

    Quote:
    “Early on Wednesday morning, police had wrongly said both the container and the cabin had entered mainland Britain through Holyhead.  ”

    Furthermore rumors are being reported that the driver may have called it in .
    Quote:
    “Mr Robinson may have alerted the authorities himself, it emerged. ” .

    Question : If the driver was the one who called it in , then why was he arrested under suspicion of murder rather than held for questioning ?

    More importantly , why would migrants agree to be hauled in a reefer trailer ???

    Anyways this causes one to question the accuracy of the articles posted on Freightwaves as well . Even authorities can’t be relied upon for accuracy .

    Have fun ! I’m done !

    In my humble opinion ………..

  4. I couldn’t let this go , I had to check dig a little deeper .

    GRIM FIND Essex lorry deaths – 39 migrants ‘had no chance of survival’ in -25C trailer as driver, 25, held for ‘mass murder’

    Quote:

    COPS WARNED ABOUT ESSEX PORT

    “POLICE warned the government three years ago that people smugglers were targeting Purfleet – the Essex port where the lorry container carrying the 39 migrants docked

    Ministers were told by the National Crime Agency (NCA) that the port was being used by people smugglers because it was “less busy” than other ports
    Five years ago, one migrant died and 35 others – including children – were rescued from a container at nearby Tilbury Docks
    Workers heard screaming and banging from the 40ft container soon after a P&O ferry docked in the Essex port ”

    Wow ! That means government are guilty of negligence . This unfortunate outcome could have definitely been prevented . And they arrested the truck driver and soiled his reputation through the media on suspicion of murder while ministers get away with negligence scot free ??? UNBELIEVABLE !

    Now I’m sick to my stomach .

    In my humble opinion ……….

    NOW I’m done !

  5. Update :

    Bodies in truck container identified as Chinese nationals

    “Extremely unlikely” people were loaded into trailer at Zeebrugge port, says port chief executive
    Quote:
    “The chief executive of Zeebrugge port, Joachim Coens, told Belgium’s Flemish public broadcaster VRT he thinks that it’s “extremely unlikely” the people found dead in the back of a truck were loaded into the trailer at Zeebrugge because of the checks that take place at the port.

    “One makes a visual check with cameras, and looks if the seal is intact, and then is placed at the terminal,” Coens said.
    “If it’s a refrigerated container that’s closed with a seal, then it’s also hermetically sealed, so you can’t see inside with CO2 or dogs, so then above all the seal is checked, a visual check, also the driver is checked, and then nothing else happens with it because it’s also not possible that people get inside at that place, because it’s sealed off. Right before it goes onboard, it’s again checked if everything is still in order. And then it goes to the other side,” Coens explained.”

    Perhaps from now on “seals” should be cut , physically VERIFY IN THE TRAILER until you can obtain a better “scanner” , and then have whom ever brought the trailer instill a new seal .

    From my perspective , the clowns who shipped the migrants in the refrigerated trailer knew that the scanner/camera at the port couldn’t see through the “refrigerated” trailer due to the C02 and the fact that it had a seal would be waved as “ok” rather than cut and open the trailer doors to verify inside the trailer at the port !

    WAKE UP !

    In my humble opinion ………….

    1. The police are taking the path of least resistance in targeting the driver. There is so much more to this story. However when you are in possession of something illegal, you have to prove your innocence. The old saying applies; possession is 9/10s of the law.

    2. The number 1 problem with opening and inspecting every container/trailer is the time involve.
      The only way to insure there is no humans being smuggled is to unload the freight to insure they haven’t made a void in the middle of the cargo for people to hide in.
      Same as the US/Mexico border, they can’t inspect or x-ray every single truck or the backs ups would be weeks long instead of hours like currently.
      Inspectors can only use BOL and instincts to decide which trucks need searching

      1. Quote:
        “The number 1 problem with opening and inspecting every container/trailer is the time involve.”
        Correct !

        Therefore government needs to subsidize technology development to address the challenge .

        However , without wanting to come across as a “conspiracy theorist” , ways of doing things for efficiently are being held back .

        Example : If a mechanism was in place to fully scan every nick and cranny of every trailer/container within seconds , that would certainly become bothersome for certain people that need certain trailers and containers to go through uninspected . Some of those people are highly connected at the top of the political chain .

        In this day and age if an ethical government wanted to prevent things from going undetected , believe me with the power they have things would not go through undetected . They can find an ant on this planet if they want to .

        And as an example : Concerning this particular story , politicians /ministers were alerted and “decided” to do nothing about it . And that’s why this sort of tragedy occurred .

        Furthermore , you need to keep in mind how “certain” cargo containing tons and tons of narcotics “mysteriously” appear to get through without a problem too . Being objective rather than subjective concerning cargo shipments is of most importance . Relying on what is inscribed on a BOL ain’t worth the ink on it’s paper . And “intuition” is subjective . There I much to much contraband going through to “suppose” this or that trailer/container appears to be “ok” .

        In my humble opinion ……….

  6. UPDATE !

    Quote:
    U.K. police free 3 suspects on bail in truck deaths case after driver charged

    “Published Sunday, October 27, 2019 11:56AM EDT
    Last Updated Sunday, October 27, 2019 12:59PM EDT
    LONDON — British police released three people on bail Sunday after questioning them in the deaths of 39 people found hidden in a shipping container in southeastern England.

    A 38-year-old man, a 38-year-old woman — both from the northern English town of Warrington– and a 46-year-old man from Northern Ireland were questioned on suspicion of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people.
    The bodies were found early Wednesday in an industrial park in southeastern England.

    Essex Police on Saturday charged the driver of the truck, 25-year-old Maurice Robinson of Northern Ireland, with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering. He is to appear in court Monday.

    Up to 24 families have reported to local authorities their missing children as of Sunday afternoon, VNExpress website reported. Police said their investigation includes over 500 exhibits, including mobile phones which have to be downloaded to help identify the victims.

    “We are working hard to understand how the 39 victims of this tragic incident have died and to identify all those involved,” said Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore. “We remain open-minded as to nationalities of those who have died. We are asking anyone who may have information that may assist us in identification to come forward to us.”

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