A GROUP of 19 suspected illegal immigrants were arrested outside a Portsmouth haulage depot.
The men and women were found yesterday morning in the back of a lorry trailer at Freight Transport Ltd in Walton Road on the Railway Triangle industrial estate.
Officers from Home Office Immigration Enforcement were seen at the site taking the group from the back of the lorry and into police vans.
A Home Office spokesman said the group was from Eritrea in Africa and included 13 men and five women aged between 21 and 27.
He said another male, who claimed to be a minor, would be age assessed.
The spokesman said: ‘We work closely with the police to tackle illegal immigration.
‘Where someone is found to have no legal right to remain in the UK we will take action to remove them.’
The spokesman said the group would either be transferred to a detention centre or released on immigration bail depending on their circumstances.
Paige Witts, 21, of Hilsea, works for a sandwich delivery business.
She saw the group when she was driving around while working.
She said: ‘We spoke to a Parcelforce delivery man who said he saw the people earlier putting up their hands and trying to get through the sides of the lorry.
‘When we were there, police were escorting them out one by one and doing a bag search and a clothes search to see if they had anything on them.’
Ms Witts said the Eritreans seemed at ease with the situation.
She said: ‘They seemed so calm and relaxed by everything that was going on.’
A man, who asked not to be named, also saw the arrests being made. He said: ‘I saw into the truck and it was full of people, and they were sitting on top of boxes stacked inside.
‘They weren’t violent or anything, they were really calm.
‘I think they must have wanted to be arrested, they just accepted it.’
Staff from the firm declined to comment when approached by The News.