Date: 5 Rabbi al-Awwal 1442   Thursday 22 October 2020

  • Last Update: Thursday 22 October 2020، 01:24:38.

Gang of 26 arrested for allegedly smuggling people from Vietnam to Europe

10:07 28 May 2020 Author :  

A gang of 26 suspected people smugglers have been arrested in France and Belgium in an investigation prompted by the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants found in the back of a lorry in Essex last year.

The early morning raids took place in Paris and Brussels, with 13 people detained in each country.

In Belgium, 11 Vietnamese and two Moroccans were held, while in France, authorities said the suspects were “mostly Vietnamese and French”.

The suspects are allegedly part of an organised crime group that smuggles refugees from Asia, particularly from Vietnam, and that likely has transported up to several dozen people every day for several months, Europol said in a statement.

“Prompted by the discovery of 39 deceased Vietnamese nationals inside a refrigerated trailer in Essex in the United Kingdom in October 2019, a joint investigation team (JIT) was created between Belgium, Ireland, France, the United Kingdom, Eurojust and Europol,” Europol said.

The bodies of eight women and 31 men were found in a refrigerated trailer attached to a lorry in an industrial park in Grays, Essex, in the early hours of October 23, shortly after the lorry arrived on a ferry from Zeebrugge, in Belgium, in the early hours of October 23 last year.

Among the men, women and children were 10 teenagers, two of them 15-year-old boys.

The driver, Maurice Robinson, 25, of Craigavon, Northern Ireland has admitted 39 counts of manslaughter on or before October 24 last year.

“In Belgium, 16 house searches were carried out in the Brussels Capitol Region, including in safe houses. 13 people were deprived of their liberty prior to their possible appearance before an investigating judge, and five victims/migrants were found,” Europol said today.

“In France, 13 individuals were arrested in the region of Paris – Île-de-France. The operation was partly conducted under the supervision of the Investigative Judge of the JUNALCO (National Jurisdiction Against Organised Crime).

“These coordinated arrests are a strong signal to migrant smuggling groups that judiciary and law enforcement communities in the EU are joining forces to detect, investigate and prosecute this kind of serious organised crime,” it added.

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