The Brussels Federal Judicial Police (FGP) with about 100 agents raided ten suspects of people smuggling, mostly Vietnamese or Belgians of Vietnamese origin. The gang proceeded in the same way as they did to transport the 39 Vietnamese transmigrants who were found dead in a refrigerator truck in England in 2019.

Yves Barbieux

Businesses as a point of contact, hiding places in various municipalities of the Brussels Region, use of taxis and cars with foreign number plates for the transport of transmigrants. When the investigators of the “human trafficking” department of the Brussels FGP saw the scenario of this new gang of Vietnamese people smugglers, the memory immediately loomed of the drama, which in 2019 cost the lives of 39 mainly Vietnamese migrants.

Brussels as a turntable

As in the previous case, the focus of human smuggling was once again in Brussels municipalities such as Anderlecht, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean and Sint-Joost-ten-Node. The candidates for the illegal crossing were mainly Vietnamese, ie compatriots of the smugglers, to whom they had to pay hundreds of euros each for each transport.

Candidates for the crossing to England were usually picked up in neighboring countries by taxis and cars with foreign number plates. They were then taken to hiding places in Brussels pending their transfer to France or the Netherlands, where they would be deported to England.

The investigators raided a dozen addresses and took in as many suspects for questioning. The investigating judge decided to place eight of them under an arrest warrant on suspicion of human trafficking with aggravating circumstances and participation in a criminal organization.

Refrigerated truck via Zeebrugge

This file recalls the drama in which 39 Asian transmigrants, mainly from Vietnam, were found dead in a refrigerated truck on 23 October 2019 in the southern Enghel county of Essex. The truck had crossed to England via the port of Zeebrugge. Several victims had spent some time in Brussels safehouses before being crammed into the fatal refrigerated truck, from which they never got out alive. Among them were 3 minors.

In Vietnam, seven people were arrested for the role they would have played in recruiting the killed refugees. Four accomplices were jailed for up to 27 years in England for their part in the deadly transport by refrigerated truck.

In our country, the investigation resulted in a total of 23 suspects. Their trial was initiated in Bruges a month ago. The criminal proceedings and pleadings are expected in mid-December.

On May 20, 2021, 49 transmigrants were rescued off the coast of Koksijde from a dinghy, which they wanted to use to cross the Channel. Most of the refugees were Vietnamese.

The victims of the refrigerated truck

The victims of the refrigerated truck

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