Police raid homes in Northern Ireland as detectives probe journey of lorry driver

Police in Northern Ireland have raided two properties as detectives continue to quiz a 25-year-old driver following the discovery of 39 migrants in the back of his lorry.  

Several officers were pictured outside two properties in the area of Co Armagh, after arresting  lorry driver Mo Robinson, 25, from Portadown.

Detectives are now looking into an Irish smuggling ring which has links to the Bulgarian city of Varna, where the truck is registered to.

The two searches are thought to be in relation to Robinson, however sources have now claimed that it is ‘unlikely’ that Robinson was aware of plans to smuggle people across the border.

CCTV shows Robinson’s truck driving into the industrial estate in Essex at 1.10am on Wednesday and police arrived around half an hour later. Neither the nationality of the victims, nor the origin of the container is currently known.

The truck was removed from the scene yesterday afternoon, with the 39 victims still believed to be inside, as police begin the process of identifying them. 

Investigations are ongoing and the latest pictures showed two properties in Northern Ireland being raided by police. 

Police are pictured outside a property in the Laurelvale area of Co Armagh in Northern Ireland after a murder investigation was launched

Police are pictured outside a property in the Laurelvale area of Co Armagh in Northern Ireland after a murder investigation was launched

Police are pictured outside a property in the Laurelvale area of Co Armagh in Northern Ireland after a murder investigation was launched

Officers were also seen outside this property in the Markethill area (above) as they continue to investigate those thought to be involved

Officers were also seen outside this property in the Markethill area (above) as they continue to investigate those thought to be involved

Officers were also seen outside this property in the Markethill area (above) as they continue to investigate those thought to be involved

Two officers were seen outside the property in Markethill after the arrest of local man Mo Robinson, 25

Two officers were seen outside the property in Markethill after the arrest of local man Mo Robinson, 25

Two officers were seen outside the property in Markethill after the arrest of local man Mo Robinson, 25

While several officers raided a property in Laurelvale, others were also seen outside a property in the Markethill area, where a van had been parked outside.

Other shots show the officers entering one of the properties and going inside. 

Detectives now say the refrigerated trailer containing the victims arrived at Purfleet from Zeebrugge in Belgium at around 12.30am on Wednesday while the front section known as the tractor came from Northern Ireland.

The lorry and trailer left the port shortly after 1.05am and officers were called around 30 minutes later after ambulance staff made the grim discovery at Waterglade Industrial Park in Eastern Avenue in nearby Grays.

The vehicle driver, named in reports as 25-year-old Mo Robinson from Portadown in Co Armagh, Northern Ireland, is being held by Essex police on suspicion of murder.

One officer was seen to be carrying what looked like a red clip board as he entered the property this evening

One officer was seen to be carrying what looked like a red clip board as he entered the property this evening

One officer was seen to be carrying what looked like a red clip board as he entered the property this evening

Robinson arrived in the UK at the weekend. He picked up the trailer, which had been shipped from Zeebrugge to Purfleet, yesterday evening. Minutes later, he pulled into the Essex industrial estate and the alarm was raised

Robinson arrived in the UK at the weekend. He picked up the trailer, which had been shipped from Zeebrugge to Purfleet, yesterday evening. Minutes later, he pulled into the Essex industrial estate and the alarm was raised

Robinson arrived in the UK at the weekend. He picked up the trailer, which had been shipped from Zeebrugge to Purfleet, yesterday evening. Minutes later, he pulled into the Essex industrial estate and the alarm was raised

It is believed that the driver may have alerted the authorities himself and sources close to the investigation last night told The Telegraph that it was ‘unlikely’ he had known about any plans to smuggle people. 

This is while it was also discovered that the cab of the truck was registered in Bulgaria in 2017, by an Irish woman.

Bulgarian officials stated that the cab had not been back to the town of Varna for two years.

The area is prolific for its fuel and cigarette smuggling route with links to Irish republican gangs. 

This is while the container has been linked to an Irish firm which is headquartered in Dublin, yet is registered in Northern Ireland. 

Speaking on Wednesday afternoon, Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills said: ‘In order to ensure we maintain the dignity of the people who sadly lost their lives, we will be moving the lorry and the trailer shortly.’

She said they were being moved to nearby Tilbury Docks so the bodies can be recovered while preserving the dignity of the victims.

‘We are yet to identify them and must manage this sensitively with their families,’ she added. 

 

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