Essex container deaths: Man arrested and charged in Italy in connection with migrant tragedy

June 10, 2021

A man has been arrested in Italy in connection with the investigation into the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants in a lorry container in Essex.

Dragos Damian, 27, was detained near Milan by Italian authorities and the National Crime Agency on Thursday, Essex Police said.

He has been charged with conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence.

The action was taken under an international arrest warrant and Essex Police are awaiting details of the man's court appearance.

The discovery of the bodies in Grays on 23 October 2019 was the UK's worst migrant tragedy in nearly two decades.

The victims died when they ran out of air in temperatures of up to 38.5C (101F), as the trailer was shipped from Belgium to Purfleet docks.

Ten teenagers were among the victims.

The main members of the people smuggling gang involved were given long jail sentences earlier this year

Haulier Ronan Hughes, 41, from Ireland, was a ringleader who supplied lorries and drivers over 18 months and was paid £3,000 for each migrant.

He admitted manslaughter and people smuggling and was jailed for 20 years.

The lorry's driver, Maurice Robinson, from Northern Ireland, also admitted manslaughter and people smuggling. He was jailed for 13 years and four months.

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