Millionaire wanted over truck deaths
POLICE in Vietnam investigating the deaths of 39 migrants in an Essex truck have identified the millionaire kingpin believed to be behind the fatal people-smuggling plot, it is reported.
A special police task force believes gang lord "Mr Truong" has made millions trafficking desperate Vietnamese migrants into Britain and the US.
The mob master is thought to lead the gang in Vietnam, but work alongside the Chinese Snakehead crime syndicate set up in the 1980s by the infamous Jing Ping Chen, known as the Godmother of the Snakeheads, or Sister Ping.
At least 24 of the victims found in the lorry trailer on an industrial estate in Grays last week are said to be from the Ha Tinh province and neighbouring Nghe An provinces of Vietnam.
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."
So far, 28 Vietnamese families believe a relative died in the trailer, which was shipped from Zeebrugge, Belgium to Purfleet in Essex.
The youngest victim of the gang is thought to be 15-year-old Ngyuen Huy Hung, with migrants paying up to $56,100 to be transported to England.
This week, detectives said they are looking for two brothers in connection with the 39 deaths.
Ronan Hughes, 40, and Christopher, 34. both from Armagh, Northern Ireland, are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and people trafficking.
Essex Police released photos of the pair after the bodies of eight women and 31 men were found in the back of a lorry in an industrial estate in Grays last week.
It's claimed Ronan Hughes rang detectives trying to find out information about lorry driver Maurice "Mo" Robinson after the 25-year-old was arrested.
A source told Belfast Live: "Ronan Hughes made a telephone call to police in the UK from a mobile phone shortly after 2am last Wednesday.
"He said he needed to talk to someone about Mo Robinson and claimed Robinson was legit and had nothing to with anything illegal and knew nothing about the cargo.
"Hughes confirmed he knew Robinson and pushed to get a number of questions answered. He gave his (own) date of birth and an address.
"We believe he was trying to establish how much and what information the police had at that time.
"He appeared willing to co-operate with police, but he has not been contactable since."
Detective Chief Superintendent 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."
The Hughes brothers run a haulage business on the Northern Ireland border with the Republic.
Ronan Hughes is alleged to have leased the refrigerated container from another Irish company, Dublin-based Global Trailer Rentals (GTR).
There is no suggestion the brothers were aware of the plot to smuggle migrants using the cab or the container.
On Monday, Robinson appeared in court charged with manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic.
The dad-to-be is accused of being part of a global ring of people smugglers.
The 25-year-old, from Northern Ireland, was quizzed for more than 72 hours by cops after he picked up the trailer from Purfleet, Essex.
Robinson appeared via video link at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic humans, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.
The charges all relate to between December 1, 2018, and October 24, 2019.
He was remanded in custody to next appear at the Old Bailey on November 25.