May 12, 2022

Heysham Port Workers at Risk of Exploitation by ‘Drug Dealers’ and ‘Arms’ Gangs

The National Crime Agency has warned that dockworkers on leave could be vulnerable to organized crime groups.

The agency believes that workers at ports and airports may be targeted by those seeking to exploit the Covid-19 crisis.

As global restrictions on the movement of people and goods are further relaxed, the Crime Alert warns that staff who have detailed knowledge of controls and processes around the border could be targeted.

The warning has been sent to businesses at the border, including port and airport operators, contractors, couriers and freight operators, as their staff on leave return to work after the easing of restrictions on Covid – including the Port of Heysham.

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NCA Border Threat Officer Beki Wright said: “Life has been difficult for everyone during the Covid 19 pandemic, including staff working at the border, but organized criminals are aware of the opportunities that this presents.

“The prospect of having your bills paid in exchange for the UK Border Knowledge Disclosure may sound appealing, but the people behind these offers are high-risk criminals responsible for drug trafficking, arms trafficking, money laundering. money and human trafficking.

“By working with our partners in the Ministry of Transport and the Border Force, we are determined to do everything possible to fight corruption and dismantle the criminal networks responsible for it. ”

Rob Allen, Deputy Director of the Insider Threats and Border Force Integrity Team, said: “We are absolutely committed to fighting organized crime and doing whatever is necessary to protect the public from harm. .

“We welcome opportunities such as working with the NCA to disrupt organized criminal networks. “

In recent years, NCA investigations and intelligence have identified examples of organized criminal networks targeting those working in ports and airports, parcel centers and delivery centers. Although the numbers are relatively small, the impact of these corrupt insiders can be extremely high.

The NCA’s 2021 National Strategic Assessment on Serious and Organized Crime indicates that OCG’s efforts to establish new insider contacts are likely to increase due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

The Amber Alert issued by the agency warns that OCGs frequently offer financial support in exchange for knowledge and access to restricted areas. This can be used to aid in the smuggling of illicit goods such as guns and drugs, or the movement of vulnerable people and children through organized immigration crime.

OCGs can approach workers in person or online, posing as recruiters or under some other legitimate pretext.

Beki Wright added: “We are aware that staff can be contacted via social media and we urge anyone approached in this or any other way to contact us immediately. Your actions could help prevent serious crime.

“If you are or have been approached or have any information, please contact Crimestoppers anonymously, online or by phone on 0800 555 111. If you can afford to report it through your employer or access a program whistleblower, you can use this.

“Please don’t close your eyes. “

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