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Belgium assists UK authorities in major arrest of people smugglers

20:20 07/02/2018

Officers from Belgium’s federal judicial police were involved in an investigation leading to the strike against a suspected criminal network in the UK on Tuesday. It resulted in 21 arrests of gang members, allegedly charging up to £10,000 to smuggle hundreds of Iraqi-Kurdish people into the UK from Belgium, France and the Netherlands, says the British Embassy of Brussels in a press statement.

Launched by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), the operation consisted of 350 officers. It followed a year-long joint investigation by Belgian, French and Dutch police.

Migrants are believed to have paid between £5,000 and €10,000 each to be smuggled into the UK. The gang allegedly used agents to recruit drivers in northeast England and in mainland Europe, according to the Independent newspaper. Several vehicles were stopped in the nationwide operation, with migrants taken to safety.

A Brussels-based NCA officer said: “The UK National Crime Agency works constantly alongside our colleagues from the Belgian Federal Judicial Police specialist investigation teams, targeting those who make profit from human smuggling, and the often closely associated exploitation of vulnerable people. The operation is the latest in a long list of successes shared by Belgium and the UK. Our close partnership will continue to disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups that prey on these victims.”

 

Written by Sarah Crew