Prison sentences of up to ten years and fines of up to 120,000 for Antwerp drug traffickers
The Criminal Court in Antwerp has sentenced the member of a drug trafficking gang known as the “Vuitton Gang” to up to 10 years’ imprisonment and fines of up to 120,000 euro. The gang transported containers in which cocaine was concealed through the port of Antwerp.
The investigation into the gang’s activities got under way three years ago after a container was reported missing. CCTV images showed the container being put onto to the back of a lorry. The driver drove off with the container and brought it back the next day. Detectives suspected that cocaine had been concealed in the container.
Further investigation pointed to the involvement of a criminal gang that used intercepted security pin codes and swipe cards that gave them access to the port terminal. The containers were taken to warehouses in the Antwerp area or just over the River Scheldt to the Waasland area of East Flanders where the cocaine was unloaded. The containers were then returned to the quayside or even simply dumped.
During the period between January and August 2020 20 containers with cocaine were collected from the port. 3 containers were confiscated. They contained a total of just over 2 tonnes of the drug.
In October 2020 the Federal Judicial Police searched a number of properties. 300,000 euro in cash, expensive watches and other luxury goods were seized. Among the goods seized was a life-size bear designed by the French fashion label Louis Vuitton.
8.6 million euro confiscated
The investigation was helped along by information obtained from the hacking of the encrypted Sky ECC messaging service. A total of 41 people stood accused.
They included lorry drivers, security guards and the owner of a haulage company. Of the 41 accused, 3 were acquitted. The rest were given prison sentences of up to 10 years and fine as much as 120,000 euro. The court also confiscated 8.6 million euro in ill-gotten gains.