Five arrested for smuggling drugs in Brussels Airport

Five arrested for smuggling drugs in Brussels Airport
Credit: Belga

Five suspects have been arrested following an investigation into drug smuggling at Brussels Airport in Zaventem, the Federal Judicial Police (FGP) of Halle-Vilvoorde confirmed.

Among the suspects are two baggage handlers who worked for a drug gang and were caught transporting several suitcases filled with cocaine from an aeroplane. Police officers at Brussels Airport had been watching the two airport employees for some time.

"An investigation was opened which showed that the two men were part of a criminal organisation involved in the smuggling of drugs from Africa," Carol Vercarre of the Halle-Vilvoorde Public Prosecutor's Office told VRT.

"The gang always worked in the same way: on flights from the capital of the Gambia (Banjul) several suitcases with drugs were hidden among the luggage. The two airport employees were responsible for removing these suitcases from the plane. One of them took the bags before handing them over to other members of the gang outside the airport building."

A street value of €6 million

Last Tuesday, another flight landed from Banjul, which was closely monitored by investigators from the Federal Judicial Police. Although the suspected employees were not due to work at that time, both were present at the airport when the flight landed at Zaventem.

"They took several suitcases from the plane, after which one of them left the airport with the bags. A few kilometres away, he was met by three cars and the suitcases were loaded into these cars," Vercarre said. "At that moment the police successfully intervened. Three suitcases were found with a total of approximately 120 kilograms of cocaine, which corresponds to a street value of €6 million."

In the end, five suspects were arrested and in a series of subsequent house searches, the police also seized large sums of cash, according to the Public Prosecutor's Office.

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"The five suspects were brought before the investigating judge, who placed them under an arrest warrant," Vercarre said. "Four of the five persons have Belgian nationality, the fifth has Surinamese nationality. The arrested persons live in Vilvoorde, Brussels, Mechelen and Antwerp."

The authorities explained that the gang's working method is a typical example of airport crime, in which employees or companies at an airport are called in for criminal activities at or via the airport.

"Tackling this phenomenon is one of the absolute priorities of the new security plan for Brussels Airport and this successful action is therefore part of the close cooperation between the security services and the airport operator in the fight against this form of crime," said Vercarre.

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