20/05/2016 21:57 BST

Migrant Smuggling Suspect Rekawt Kayani Accused Of Organising 'Runs' To Bring Hundreds Into UK

He faces extradition to France.

An Iraqi man suspected of heading a criminal network that allegedly smuggled hundreds of migrants into the UK has been arrested in Derby.

Rekawt Kayani, 34, was apprehended on a European Arrest Warrant at his home in the Normanton area of the city on Wednesday morning.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said he was one of three men detained as part of a joint investigation with French authorities, The Press Association reported.

It is alleged Kayani organised numerous smuggling runs, including one in June 2015 when 68 migrants were found inside four lorries at the Harwich International Port, according to the NCA. 

Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive
A man is led away by Border Force staff at Harwich International port in Essex last year after 68 people were found locked in a container.

Thirty-five of the migrants were from Afghanistan, 22 from China, 10 from Vietnam and one was from Russia.

Officers also believe he orchestrated runs from Dieppe to Newhaven, the agency said, and in January 2016 seven migrants - five from Vietnam and two from Iraq - were found crammed inside a concealed compartment in the back of a van.

Kayani, who now faces extradition to France, appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on Thursday. He has been remanded in custody until a hearing on July 5.

NCA officer Mick Pope said: "Kayani was targeted by the UK Organised Immigration Crime Taskforce as we believe he is responsible for smuggling hundreds of migrants into the UK.

"We will continue to work with agencies in the UK and overseas to target anyone that preys on vulnerable people in order to line their own pockets."

The two other men arrested – a 29-year-old from Derby and a 32-year-old from Gillingham - have been released on bail pending further enquiries.