On November 7th, Essex police found 39 people dead in the back of a truck in Greys, Essex in the United Kingdom. UK police officials have since confirmed that the victims were Vietnamese citizens who were attempting to immigrate illegally to the UK, and were being smuggled over state borders in the truck that they were found in. Maurice Robinson, the driver of the truck, has since been charged with manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering. The victims were transported from Zeebrugge, a small Belgian port city, to Purfleet, Essex. The container was loaded onto the truck the victims were discovered in and driven for almost two hours to Greys, Essex where the bodies were discovered. The victims likely died from either the freezing temperatures of the container they were stored in or suffocation. The secretive nature of how the victims were transported have led police officials to speculate that this may have been a case of human trafficking, and eight people in Vietnam were arrested in early November for their involvement in the human trafficking rings that may have smuggled the victims initially out of Vietnam. According to the New York Times, global human trafficking rates have increased nearly 36 percent since 2017, and methods trafficking methods have become riskier and more dangerous as immigration policies have tightened around the world. Border officials in the UK and Belgium have increased the number of personnel monitoring their national boundaries and ports, but don’t expect to see a decrease in attempted immigration in the near future.
By Julianna Baldo