Police have launched an investigation after the corpses of two suspected migrants were found inside wooden transit crates in a warehouse in Staffordshire. Police were called to the Ferroli in Branston, Burton-upon-Trent, on 17 November following the discovery of two male bodies.
The identities of the men, both aged under the age of 30, have not yet been established. Further tests will need to be conducted to determine the cause of death.
Staffordshire Police said the wooden transit crate was part of a consignment of commercial boilers that left northern Italy on 5 October and entered the UK by ferry from Dunkirk to Dover on 8 October.
It was delivered to the warehouse later the same day, where it remained untouched until employees became suspicious due to its "unpleasant smell and appearance". The bodies could have been locked inside the crates at the warehouse for more than a month.
Police said they are treating the men's deaths as suspicious as they are "almost certain" they were helped to conceal themselves among the delivery load by a third party.
Detective Chief Inspector Dave Giles, who is leading the investigation, said: "It is apparent both men had been dead for some time. Based on the information available this time, the men are likely to be migrants who had secreted themselves in a wooden transit crate to enable their entry into the UK.
"Our priorities are to identify the bodies and repatriate them to their bereaved families, and also to identify anyone who is involved in facilitating the illegal movement of people into the UK. It is likely this investigation will take some time and will require close partnership working with colleagues from the National Crime Agency, Border Force and Immigration Enforcement.
"This is clearly a tragic incident. Our thoughts are with the men, who must have been extremely uncomfortable in their final moments, and their as-yet untraced families and friends, who will undoubtedly be very concerned having not heard from their loved ones for a considerable time.
Giles added: "We are treating the men with the utmost respect and dignity, and will continue to do so."