The large scale operation that was mounted by Belgium’s Federal Police service and the UK’s National Crime Agency was directed against a gang that smuggled people from Iraq to the UK.
Arrests were made a several locations in the northwest of England and in Ghent. According to the British authorities, the gang smuggled 3,000 migrants into Europe illegally during a three-month period last year.
The arrests were the culmination of months of close cooperation between the Belgian and British police services. In Ghent two suspects were detained. A 15- year-old transit migrant was also detained elsewhere, in Belgium as he was boarding the trailer of a truck bound for the UK.
In the UK three suspects were arrested. A 41-year-old man believed to be the head of the gang was arrested at his home in Oldham, near Manchester, where officers also seized around 17,800 euro in cash.
A 38-year-old man was arrested in Stoke on Trent and a 35-year-old man was arrested in the Newton Heath area of Manchester.
The authorities in the UK say that all the suspects have links to the Kurdish community.