Six individuals believed to be members of a human trafficking gang have been arrested as a result of an investigation launched by the East Flanders branch of the Federal Judicial Police in October of last year.
In October 2021, a police squad from the Ghent police zone investigated a suspicious car and uncovered an inflatable boat, an outboard motor, and life jackets, all of which are commonly used for transporting people (migrants?) onto the Belgian coast.
The three occupants were taken into police custody for questioning and the East Flanders Public Prosecutor's Office asked the East Flanders Federal Judicial Police to further investigate these findings for human trafficking.
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Investigators concluded that a human trafficking ring based in Ghent was not only supplying nautical equipment to other organisations responsible for small boat crossings to the United Kingdom, but also intending to organise these crossings themselves.
On 2 and 3 August, six suspects between the ages of 27 and 40 were arrested by the Special Forces of the Federal Police and the East Flanders Intervention Corps: five in Ghent, two in Deinze and one in Roeselare.
During the searches, three boats and motorcycles were discovered, as well as 40 inner tubes and car tyres, which were most likely used as makeshift life jackets.