A HUMAN trafficking investigation has been launched after 14 people were found in a shipping container which arrived at an Irish port this week.
Nine men, three women and two girls were found hidden in a refrigerated trailer aboard a ferry which arrived at Rosslare Europort in Wexford at 3am on January 8.
The group, which consisted of 10 Kurdish nationals, three Vietnamese and one person from Turkey, were discovered when the vehicle was searched upon arrival at the port.
It is reported that some of the undocumented migrants, who had broken a hole in the container to access oxygen, had made a call for help to British police during the journey from Zeebrugge in Belgium.
Gardaí were then alerted to the ship by UK authorities ahead of its arrival in Ireland, which allowed them organise a “co-ordinated plan with emergency services in Wexford in anticipation of their arrival to the port”, the police force confirmed.
Each person has since been assessed by medical personnel and have been deemed to be in “good health”, the Gardaí confirmed as they launched their investigation.
“An Garda Síochána at Wexford Garda Station have commenced a human trafficking investigation following the discovery of 14 people in a shipping container,” they stated.
“Gardaí attached to Wexford Garda Station, supported by the Garda National Immigration Bureau, are investigating all of the circumstances of this incident,” they explained.
“They are liaising closely with international counterparts through Europol in The Hague and the ship’s crew are assisting An Garda Síochána with these enquiries.”
They added: “Anyone with any information in relation to the incident, no matter how insignificant it may appear, is asked to contact Wexford Garda Station 053-9165200, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 66 11 or any Garda Station.”
Ireland’s Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has spoken of his relief that the migrants survived the crossing, but added that more must be done to stop the traffickers.
“We have to do everything we can to try and avoid such carriage and passage because it is dangerous and a risk to the lives of those who are put on or go on to those trucks,” he said.
“We have to do what we can to reduce it but you cannot completely eliminate it,” he added.
“We’ve seen that with the UK Government and France, trying to stop that passage.
“It is practically impossible to completely avoid it.”