Essex lorry investigators ‘identify Vietnamese mastermind’ behind 39 deaths

Cops probing the discovery of 39 migrants found dead in the back of a lorry in Essex are thought to be closing in on the ringleader behind the operation, according to reports.

Police working to solve one of Britain's biggest mass murder investigations have set up a special task force in the hunt for a Vietnamese man known as Mr Truong, it is claimed.

According to authorities, Mr Truong a key player in the Vietnamese people-smuggling trade and investigators believe he is the head of a "global ring" in the Ha Tinh and Nghe An provinces in the north of the country.

It is alleged that he has made millions by preying on desperate migrants seeking entry to countries in western Europe in search of work and a better life.

  • Distraught dad fears son may be among 39 migrants found dead in Essex lorry

At least 29 of the people found in the lorry's container in Grays last Wednesday morning are thought to have come from the Nghe An area, a rural region that borders Laos and the Gulf of Tonkin.

A source told the Daily Mirror: “As much as these gangs like to hide in the shadows, their names are being whispered in the community.

“While they now threaten the families who were smuggled with violence to keep them silent, each day the police are building up a picture on the operation Truong oversees.”

Reports suggest that the parents of Thi Tra My – one of the victims – paid Mr Truong $22,000 for the first part of their daughter's journey, it is alleged.

  • Suspected Essex lorry victim, 15, feared to be 'youngest killed on board'

The brother of 26-year-old Thi Tra My told the Mirror that it was her second attempt to enter the UK having been caught once before and returned across the Channel.

Yesterday, the driver of the lorry, Maurice "Mo" Robinson, appeared in court charged with a host of offences including 39 counts of manslaughter.

Cops on Monday also announced they are hunting a further two suspects

Two brothers, Ronan Hughes, 40 and Christopher Hughes, 34, from Armagh, Northern Ireland, are wanted on suspicion of human trafficking.

  • Essex lorry deaths: Police hunting more suspects as driver, 25, appears in court

Det Ch Supt Stuart Hooper said: "Finding and speaking to the Hughes brothers is crucial to our investigation.

"This is a case where 39 men and women have tragically died and support from the community is going to be vital to help bring those responsible to justice."

It is understood that the Hughes brothers are originally from Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland but have links across the border in the north.

Three other people arrested – a 38-year-old man, a 38-year-old woman, and a 46-year-old man – have all been released on bail.

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