The National Crime Agency has reported that a man has been found guilty of playing a leading role in a network smuggling Vietnamese nationals to the UK. The conviction of Mai Van Nguyen, age 34, comes after an exhaustive investigation by the NCA that jailed two other ringleaders last year.
Mai Van Nguyen worked alongside Hai Xuan Le, also 34, to arrange at least six illegal border crossings between August and September 2020. Their victims, all Vietnamese nationals, were brought across to the UK in the backs of lorries to the South East of Englad. Once there, they were met by Nguyen and a third defendant, taxi driver Habib Behsodi, age 42, who organised their onward travel to safe houses owned by the gang in Birmingham and the West Midlands.
NCA Branch Commander Mick Pope had this to say:
“Mai Van Nguyen was part of a criminal network who treated people as nothing more than a commodity, happily risking their lives by putting them in the back of lorries for long journeys.
His conviction is the culmination of a painstaking investigation by the NCA, focusing on a gang bringing people into the UK illegally and then arranging for them to move into the illicit economy where again they would be exploited.
Stopping people smugglers is a priority for the NCA and we are determined to do all we can to disrupt and dismantle the criminal networks involved, wherever they operate.”
Read the full article on the NCA's website.
The NCA believes that some of those smuggled would have ended up working in cannabis factories. Many Vietnamese people who leave home looking for work and a better life find themselves trafficked into illegal cannabis factories in the UK. Here, they endure terrible conditions of labour exploitation and debt bondage, and are often beaten, abused and threatened. When cannabis factories are raided or broken up by police, victims can often find themselves charged with drug offences. For more information on the role Cannabis factories play in Vietnamese people trafficking in the UK, see the short film The Secret Gardeners from antislavery.org.
The Medaille Trust works closely with law enforcement agencies, ensuring that we can be present during police operations to offer emotional support and advice to victims. Find out more about our Pursue Work and how we collaborate with law enforcement agencies here.