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People-traffickers arrested,  linked to Essex container deaths


Belgian police have dismantled a people-trafficking ring operating from the Belgian and Flemish capital.  13 people were detained across the capital region.  They stand accused of trafficking Vietnamese to the UK and are also being linked to the 39 dead Vietnamese found in a container that had travelled from the Flemish port of Zeebrugge to Essex (UK).

Police raids were staged in Belgium and France yesterday.  Properties across the Brussels Region were visited.  11 Vietnamese and 2 Moroccans were held. Brussels prosecutors suspect that the traffickers have been smuggling dozens of people to the UK every day and this for several months.

Five suspects have been arrested. The arrests are the result of a joint investigation involving France, Ireland, the UK as well as the European agencies Europol and Eurojust.

The 5 are suspected of people-trafficking, forgery and membership of an organised crime outfit.  They risk up to 15 years in jail plus a 150,000 euro fine per smuggled person.

The discovery of 39 dead Vietnamese in a refrigerated container in Essex triggered the investigation.  An Irish driver, who was supposed to collect the container after it had travelled by ferry to the UK, discovered the bodies.  Belgian prosecutors say that those arrested now are suspected of providing accommodation and transport for the Vietnamese.

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