26 arrested between Belgium and France for smuggling of irregular migrants

27 May – Officers from the Belgian Federal Police and the French Illegal Immigration Agency from the French Border Police searched 27 houses (15 in Brussels and 12 in Paris). In the operation 26 suspected members of the criminal network (13 in Belgium and 13 in France) got arrested and three vehicles, cash and electronic equipment found and got seized. 21 irregular migrants were found in the operation and kept in safety. 

The criminal network gave transport and hiding locations in these two transit countries. Law enforcement and judicial authorities from Belgium and France, supported by Europol discovered a complex criminal network involved in migrant smuggling between both countries. 

The criminal team is doubted for the transit, especially Vietnamese irregular migrants between Belgium and France towards the United Kingdom. There is a believe that the suspects have hidden victims before sending them towards their destination over the English Channel. It is guessed that the network has transported many people each day for many months. These criminal activities were dangerous because of the life-worsening conditions of transportation. This operation was crucial for the safeguard of these very vulnerable victims and the high risk of fleeing of suspects.

(Picture by Customs and Boarder Protection. US Mexico border crossing.)

The operation handled the criminal activity of people smuggling over the continent and followed the tragic discovery of 39 dead Vietnamese inside a refrigerated lorry in Essex in the United Kingdom last October.

Europol supported the operation by information exchange and analytical assistance. On the operation day, Europol post an expert to France to help in cross checking of investigation and supported national authorities in the investigation building a Joint Investigation Team between Belgium, France, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Europol and Eurojust in November 2019.


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