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Man held in Italy over UK Vietnamese migrant deaths

Man held in Italy over UK Vietnamese migrant deaths
Police officers at the scene in Essex in October 2019, when 39 Vietnamese migrants were found dead in a lorry. Photograph: Vickie Flores/EPA

Italian police have arrested a man wanted by the UK in connection with a people-smuggling plot that led to the death of 39 Vietnamese migrants in the back of a lorry.

Stefan Damian Dragos, a 28-year-old Romanian citizen, is accused of having provided the truck that transported the migrants to England, according to a police statement.

Dragos, who was detained by police in Milan on a UK arrest warrant, “belongs to a criminal organisation dedicated to illegal immigration”, it added.

The 39 Vietnamese people – the youngest of whom were two 15-year-old boys – suffocated in the container as they were being transported to what they had hoped would be new lives in Britain.

Their bodies were discovered inside the sealed unit at a port near London in October 2019.

The case cast a shocking new light on the lengths to which migrants will go in order to reach Britain, and the gangs exploiting their desperation.

The ringleaders of the smuggling gang, Ronan Hughes and Gheorghe Nica, were convicted of 39 counts of manslaughter at a London court earlier this year, and jailed for 20 years and 27 years respectively.

The drivers Maurice Robinson and Eamonn Harrison were also given 13-year and 18-year sentences respectively.

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