Police today appealed to Britain's most wanted brothers to hand themselves in over their links to the 39 migrants found dead in the back of a lorry.
Hauliers Ronan and Chris Hughes, from Co Armagh, are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking but have vanished over the past ten days.
Essex Police today revealed that police in Northern Ireland chased and pulled over one of their lorries yesterday afternoon but the siblings were not inside.
It raises the extraordinary prospect that the alleged people traffickers may well have been smuggled out of the UK by HGV or ship themselves.
Detectives also confirmed that Ronan Hughes, who is believed to own the lorry in which the bodies were found, phoned police shortly after the grim discovery was made.
Haulier brother Ronan and Chris Hughes, from Co Armagh, are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking but have vanished
Essex Police today revealed that police in Northern Ireland chased and pulled over one of their lorries near Lisburn yesterday afternoon but the siblings were not inside
Essex Police Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Stoten told reporters at a press conference in Northern Ireland: 'Today I want to make a direct appeal - Ronan and Christopher, hand yourselves in.
'We need you both to come forward and assist this investigation. Although we have already spoken to Ronan Hughes recently by telephone we need to have a conversation with him and his brother in person.
'Talking to Ronan and Christopher is crucial to our investigation and the sooner we can make this happen the sooner we can progress and continue with our investigation.'
In the 2am call, he is said to have claimed that the driver, Mo Robinson, had nothing to do with people smuggling and didn't know of the container's cargo.
A source told BelfastLive: 'Hughes confirmed he knew Robinson and pushed to get a number of questions answered. He gave his [own] date of birth and an address.
'We believe he was trying to establish how much and what information the police had at that time. He appeared willing to co-operate with police but he has not been contactable since.'
Ronan Hughes is alleged to have driven the refrigerated trailer from its depot near the Irish border on October 15 after signing a lease document, sources have told the Daily Mail.
According to GPS data, it travelled through Wales and England, crossed the Channel to Calais, returned to Kent and then made a second crossing to travel through France and Belgium. It is unclear who was involved in driving for much of the journey.
Police impounded a second cab - believed to be owned by Ronan Hughes - in Dublin on Saturday, which is suspected of having delivered the trailer with its doomed passengers to Zeebrugge docks before it crossed the Channel last week.
The Mail approached Hughes at his large, new-build detached house in County Monaghan in the Republic last week but