The Belgian Federal Police in Asse has arrested 9 persons, dismantling a network of criminals, mainly from Iraq, suspected of smuggling illegal immigrants from Belgium to the United Kingdom. House searching revealed 4 illegal immigrants.
Extreme violence was used if competing networks tried to arrange smuggling of people on their own. In recent months several incidents took place between the competing networks, including a stabbing and in one case a shooting near Calais in France. The immigrants themselves were also often subject to aggression.
The network considered the following lorry parks in Belgium along the E40 as their “domain”; Groot–Bijgaarden, Wetteren, Drongen, Dunkirk and Calais.
It is believed that the network was responsible for the smuggling of hundreds of immigrants. The immigrants paid €1500 per person in order to be concealed in the back of lorries without any guarantee of a safe arrival in the UK.
The immigrants originated from countries such as Afghanistan, China, Iraq and Vietnam. They were brought by an Indian smuggling network during the night to the above lorry parks along the E40. The Iraqi smuggling network then took responsibility for them. The drivers were not aware that their lorries were being used in this way.
This investigation started several months ago. A smuggling route was identified from Turkey to Greece and onwards via Italy, through Central Europe to Belgium, before going to the UK as the final destination.
The main suspects and criminal links were found in close cooperation with Belgian experts after in–depth analysis. Europol experts prepared several intelligence reports, facilitated the exchange of information and coordinated the police operations. A Europol expert supported Belgian police at its coordination centre during the day of action.