DETECTIVES have revealed that they've spoken on the phone to one of the brothers wanted in connection to the deaths of 39 migrants found in the back of a lorry in Essex last week.
Police identified Ronan Hughes, 40, and his brother Christopher Hughes, 34, both from Co. Armagh in Northern Ireland, as suspects in their investigation on Tuesday, and today public urged the two to hand themselves in.
The duo are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking and reports suggest they both have links to the Irish Republic, escaping to which would - for the time being at least - put them out of UK jurisdiction.
Essex Police Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Stoten told reporters at a press conference in Northern Ireland on Friday: "Today I want to make a direct appeal - Ronan and Christopher, hand yourselves in to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
"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."
Reports emerging this week suggested that Ronan phoned police moments after lorry driver Mo Robinson, 25, also from Co. Armagh, was arrested following the discovery, in an attempt to try and decipher exactly what information the police had at the time.
Mr Stoten went on to stress that police in Essex would continue to work with the PSNI and Irish police "until Ronan and Christopher Hughes have come forward or are arrested".
Another Northern Irishman was arrested last weekend after being arrested at Stansted Airport, while a couple in Warrington were also brought in for questioning by police. However, all three have since been released on bail.