Update: New texts have surfaced from one of the victims, messaging her family before she was found dead, along with 38 others inside a refrigerated truck.
One family received a final text from their daughter saying she couldn’t breathe and was dying. Another family had paid $10,000 for her daughter to pursue a career as a nail technician in Britain. Another father is frantically searching for his son after losing communication with him earlier this week.
These are only some of the families hit hard by human trafficking. British officials have deemed it one of the deadliest cases of people smuggling ever reported in the country. Police have charged the driver of the truck with 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people. Five others are being questioned by British police, and Irish police said another man was arrested Saturday in connection with the case.
Police said they have removed all the bodies from the truck and are awaiting autopsies. Identifying the victims is expected to be difficult and officials said very few documents were found with the bodies. Smugglers normally take the passports of their passengers to obscure their identities, stripping them of their names and giving them new documents when they arrive at their destinations.
Police initially believed the victims were Chinese but later acknowledged that the details were still evolving. The Vietnamese government also announced Sunday its own investigation into the deaths and set up a hotline for families.-APNews
The attention shifted to Vietnam Friday, when the family of a Vietnamese woman released text messages suggesting she had suffocated in the truck. Relatives of Pham Tra My told the BBC they had been unable to contact her since receiving a text Tuesday night saying she was suffocating.
“I’m so sorry mom and dad. … My journey abroad doesn’t succeed,” she wrote. “Mom, I love you and dad very much. I’m dying because I can’t breathe. … Mom, I’m so sorry.”
Nhung paid an agent thousands of dollars in hopes of finding work at a nail parlor in Britain.
“Many families in Yen Thanh got rich from money sent back by their children working abroad,” said Le Dình Tuan, a neighbor who had gone to her house to check on her mother.
Bernie Gravett, a former Metropolitan Police officer who now advises the European Union on human trafficking, told the BBC that the use of false identification and the sheer numbers of people traveling to Europe make such efforts difficult.
A representative for VietHome, which serves Vietnamese people in the U.K., said it had forwarded to police the pictures of almost 20 people who have been reported missing.
“It’s a cruel stage for the families, because hundreds if not thousands are currently on those routes, so I appreciate we are getting calls from Vietnam saying my loved one is missing and my loved one may be on that lorry (truck), but they could be on another lorry,” he said.
The investigation stretches across Europe and authorities are trying to track the movements of the truck before the victims were discovered early Wednesday morning at an industrial park in Graves, England, a town 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of London.
This is just the latest smuggling tragedy as tens of thousands of people move across Europe in search of security and economic opportunity.
(Catch up on full story here: https://magamedia.org/2019/10/24/39-dead-human-trafficking-victims-found-frozen-inside-a-truck/ ).