Dutch and British police have rescued four teenage girls and arrested two men in a swoop on a camper-van in Holland headed to the UK.
The girls were hidden in the back of the van, Dutch prosecutors said on Monday, and the vehicle was heading to Rotterdam to catch a ferry to Hull.
Dutch gendarmes searched their camping car at a rest stop near the southern Dutch town of Bergen op Zoom on Thursday.
‘The marechaussee (gendarmes) went into action after receiving a British request for help,’ the Public Prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
British police have arrested a man in the northern city of Hull in connection with the case. There is a regular ferry service between Rotterdam and Hull.
A fourth man was arrested on Friday in Beverwijk, northwest of Amsterdam.
Ali Muhammed Raza, 38, appeared Saturday morning in a Hull court, charged with four counts of facilitating illegal entry, plus conspiracy to facilitate illegal entry, Britain’s Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) said in a statement.
The three other suspects, two Iraqi nationals and a man from Turkey, aged between 24 and 34, are expected to be extradited to Britain soon.
The four teens, believed to be from Syria or Iraq, have requested asylum in the Netherlands.
‘We believe those arrested were members of a well-established international people-smuggling racket that was preying on vulnerable females in order to line their own pockets,’ said SOCA spokeswoman Jane Johnson.