Vietnam arrests two suspects in UK human trafficking case

By Duc Hung   November 1, 2019 | 04:00 pm PT
Vietnam arrests two suspects in UK human trafficking case
Vehicles of a funeral home arrive at the Port of Tilbury, the U.K, where the bodies of 39 immigrants found dead in a truck in Essex are being held by authorities, October 25, 2019. Photo by Reuters/Philip Nicholls.
Police in the central province of Ha Tinh have arrested two persons following 10 families reporting their children going missing in the U.K.

Senior Colonel Nguyen Tien Nam, deputy chief of Ha Tinh Police, confirmed Friday that the two suspects have been placed under criminal investigation for "organizing, brokering illegal emigration."

The identities of the suspects, however, have not been revealed, as "the case is still under investigation."

Nam also said that the two suspects' arrests are related to the investigation into reports by the 10 local families about their children missing in the U.K. since Friday last week.

The reports were filed after 39 people were found dead inside a refrigerated container in the U.K.'s Essex County on October 23, causing the families to fear their children might be among the victims.

Since launching the investigation Thursday, Ha Tinh police have summoned a number of individuals for questioning and determined that they're not only involved in the 10 families' cases but also in other trafficking incidents that have occurred over the past few years.

U.K. police initially believed all of the dead persons found in Essex were Chinese nationals, but retracted it later as reports surfaced saying several victims may be Vietnamese.

Maurice Robinson, the 25-year-old truck driver, of Craigavon in Northern Ireland, has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and other offences including conspiracy to traffic people.

Three other people arrested in connection with the investigation have been released on bail until November 11-13.

Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security and Ha Tinh police have collected DNA samples of the parents with missing children for sending to the U.K. to help determine whether they are among the 39 people found dead inside the container.

Last Wednesday, Minister of Public Security To Lam also called the U.K.'s Home Secretary to discuss identification of the victims.

Vietnam reported 490 human trafficking victims last year, according to the U.S.'s 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Some 70 percent of Vietnamese trafficking cases in the U.K. between 2009 and 2016 were linked to labor exploitation, with young people forced to work in cannabis production and nail salons, according to a British government report released in 2018.

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