Belfast Telegraph

Stowaways found hidden in lorry

Twelve stowaways bound for the Irish Republic were discovered hiding in the back of a lorry by British immigration officials, it has emerged.

The ten Iraqi and two Afghan men were found among freight in the Irish registered container at Calais, northern France, by the UK Border Agency using a detection dog.

The truck, which was about to board a ferry for Dover and travel to Tallaght in Dublin, was stopped and searched on Saturday morning.

The lorry and its load were allowed to continue but officials warned the driver, from Wales, and the Co Wicklow-based operating haulage company could each face a 2,300 euro fine if found he did not take adequate steps to secure the vehicle.

The men were removed and handed over to the French authorities.

Carole Upshall, UK Border Agency's Director for European Operations, said finds such as this one highlight the determination and expertise required by officers to stay one step ahead of illegal immigration.

"In 2009 we stopped over 29,000 individual attempts to cross the channel illegally and searched over 1,000,000 freight vehicles," she said.

"The UK Border Agency's strong presence at the border, not only in the UK but also in northern France, helps protect the whole country from attempts to illegally enter the UK where they then head for destinations beyond - in this case to Dublin."

Ben, a three-year-old Huntaway Cross body detection dog, had alerted staff that the 12 foreign nationals were hiding among the mixed load of luggage and electronic goods in the lorry.

The agency said its officers use hi-tech search equipment, including detection dogs, carbon dioxide detectors, heartbeat monitors and scanners, to combat immigration crime and detect well-hidden stowaways, illegal drugs, firearms and cigarettes.

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