NINE people were arrested in Windlesham on Sunday on suspicion of entering the UK illegally.
The Home Office were contacted following reports to Surrey Police from residents of up to 20 people decamping from the back of an articulated lorry.
The suspected illegal passengers left the vehicle in Brick Hill at around 11.30am. Officers arrested eight men from Vietnam, Iraq and Iran who have been ordered to report regularly to the Home Office while their cases are being progressed. One Iranian claiming to be a minor has been passed to social services to be age-assessed.
Brick Hill resident Gavin Cotton (below), who is 33, was one of those to first contact the police.
He told the News & Mail: “We were extremely shocked to see so many people being off-loaded from the back of an articulated lorry – it looked like about 20.
Gavin believes police arrived at the scene with sniffer dogs around an hour later.
He added: “I called the police, who took some time to attend. However, they did arrive with special K9 units to locate the
“Shortly after that, we saw one of the people being detained in the next road down.
“You hear about this sort of thing on the news, but never expect it to happen in your own road.”
In a statement, Surrey Police confirmed: “We received a report of suspicious activity at around noon on Sunday, September 13, after a number of illegal immigrants had decamped from an articulated lorry in the Windlesham area.
“The incident happened in the vicinity of Chertsey Road and Brick Hill.
“Officers attended the location and a number of people were detained, who were later passed to UK Visas & Immigration.”
A Home Office spokesman told the News & Mail that in 2014 Border Force and the French authorities foiled nearly 40,000 attempts to cross the English Channel illegally – more than double the tally from the previous year.
A statement continued: “Our immigration enforcement teams work closely with the police and other agencies to tackle criminal gangs that attempt to smuggle migrants into Britain.
“We continue to strengthen our border security to stop illegal migrants entering the UK in the first place.
“We use the latest technology and intelligence leads to target the organised gangs behind this criminality. The Immigration Act
2014 made it harder for people to live in the UK illegally.
“The new Immigration Bill will build on this and we will take tougher action on those who shouldn’t be here by rooting out illegal immigrants and boosting deportations.
“If someone is found to have no legal right to remain in the UK we will take action to remove them.”