Mo Robinson, from Northern Ireland, is the only person facing charges in the tragedy so far
The route used ahead of the tragic 39 lorry deaths in England has loyalist drug-smuggling links, according to a source.
A source told Belfast Live: “That route and the network involved bears the hallmarks of a loyalist heroin-smuggling route.
“But there are also links to well-known republican families who these days are very active in smuggling.”
BelfastLive adds: “Despite their historic sectarian differences, there are instances when former republican and loyalist paramilitaries-turned-gangsters co-operate and co-ordinate their criminality. Police are understood to be investigating links to two crime families with paramilitary ties north and south of the Irish border who are notorious for smuggling alcohol and tobacco.”
In the early hours of October 23, 39 bodies were discovered in the back of a lorry at the Waterglade Industrial Park in England. The route used saw the lorry travel from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Purfleet in England.
Irish company Global Trailer Rentals Ltd (GTR) confirmed that it owns the refrigerated trailer where the 39 bodies were discovered and that it was rented from the company’s yard in Co Monaghan. GTR said they were “shellshocked," and “gutted” by the incident but that they were “entirely unaware” that the trailer was being used in that manner. The Irish company said they are fully cooperating with Essex Police.
In a statement on Monday, Essex Police said: “Maurice Robinson, of Laurel Drive, Craigavon, [Co Armagh] Northern Ireland – appeared via video link at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration, and money laundering. He has been remanded to appear at the Old Bailey on Monday 25 November.”
As of Monday, Robinson, pictured below, is the only one facing charges in the tragedy.
Essex Police said in a statement on Sunday: “Three people arrested in connection with the investigation into the deaths of the 39 people whose bodies were found in Grays on Wednesday have been released on bail.
“A 38-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman from Warrington were arrested in Cheshire on Friday 25 October while a 46-year-old man from Northern Ireland was arrested at Stansted Airport later the same day. All three had been questioned on suspicion of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people.
“The man and woman from Warrington have both been released on bail until 11 November while the man from Northern Ireland has been bailed until 13 November."
Post-mortems and the process of formal identification of the 39 victims are ongoing. The nationalities of the victims have yet to be formally confirmed by Essex Police.