Reporters uncover illegal immigrant network

  • 2002-11-07

A clandestine immigration network between Lithuania and Northern Ireland has been uncovered by BBC journalists, the BBC reported here Nov. 4.

The network, in which a criminal gang in Vilnius sends Lithuanians to work in farms and factories in Northern Ireland, was uncovered by two Lithuanian and one Northern Irish journalist.

One of the journalists from the BBC's Northern Ireland service, Declan Lawn, said he was drawn to the subject when two Lithuanian men who worked in a factory in Northern Ireland were found dead.

"The incident drew attention to Northern Ireland's illegal workforce," Lawn said.

"So we travelled to Lithuania on a fact-finding mission, trying to establish how people there came to be working illegally in Northern Ireland. What we found on that first trip astounded us," Lawn said.

The journalists carried out an undercover investigation, with the two Lithuanian reporters posing as clandestine workers.

Lithuania, one of 15 candidate countries for EU membership, "is growing rapidly but the average wage there is still in the region of 200 pounds (315 euros) a month, so it's not hard to see the temptations," Lawn said.