THIS is the moment a gang of four African stowaways plotting a new life in Britain was discovered hiding among machine parts destined for a North East factory.
Officers with the UK Border Agency foiled the attempt by the four to sneak into the region. The Eritreans were caught hiding in the haul of machine parts heading to County Durham.
It is not known when the four boarded the lorry but they were caught by border agency officers when it rolled into Calais. Spotting the lorry’s trailer had been tampered with, officers stopped and inspected the Italian-registered vehicle.
A body detection dog was let loose on the trailer and indicated there were people hiding inside the load destined for the North West Industrial Estate in Peterlee, County Durham.
Having been caught, the stowaways were removed from the lorry, photographed, refused entry to the UK and handed over to the French authorities.
Tom Dowdall, director of Border Force European Operations, said: “The UK Border Agency’s strong presence at the frontier, not only in the UK but also in northern France, helps protect the whole country from people illegally entering the UK and then heading for towns and cities across Britain – in this case Peterlee.
“We are committed to tackling illegal immigration and its harmful effects.
“Our officers use hi-tech search equipment and an array of search techniques to combat illegal immigration.
“These include body detection dogs, carbon dioxide detectors and heartbeat monitors as well as visual searches to find well-hidden stowaways.”
With its illegal cargo removed the lorry was allowed to continue its journey to the region.
But the driver and haulage company were both hit with fines. The Serbian lorry driver was ordered to pay £800 with the haulage firm being hit with a fine of £3,000.
The discovery is just one of many for the hundreds of UKBA officers based at ports in France and Belgium who work 24 hours a day and seven days a week to stop illegal immigrants before they step foot in the UK.
Last November the team in Calais uncovered eight Afghan men inside a shipment of fabric softener heading to the Blyth Riverside Business Park, Cowley Road, Blyth.
The group were all fingerprinted and photographed before being handed over to the French authorities so action could be taken to return them to their homeland.