A Mechelen court has sentenced a 20-person drug gang who reportedly used female couriers to avoid police checks to combined prison sentences of over 50 years.
Members of the drug gang, led by a 24-year-old Mechelen native who went by the name of Ricardo, were on trial for cocaine trafficking activities which took place between 2015 and 2018.
Ricardo, who has been identified as Yassin M., was handed an effective prison sentence of eight years, according to Het Nieuwsblad.
The highest-ranked gang members were sentenced to between four or five years in prison and the mostly female drug couriers received prisons of up to two years.
The gang, mostly made up of people aged between 19 and 23 years old, were chosen by Yassin M. —who was also responding to dealing chargers prior to 2015—, who ran operations from a bar in the Brussels municipality of Laeken.
"The defendant consciously chose them so that he could captivate them with nice words," Attorney Peter Peereboom said, adding that the gang leader had a "slight preference" for young girls "because they were less checked by police."
Prosecutors said the 24-year-old gang leader made vast sums of money by letting "others do the dirty work," running operations out of Laeken "because Mechelen police could not control him there."
The gang was reportedly very professionally organised, supplying illicit substances to a client base of more than 1,400 people in and around Mechelen, according to Gazet van Antwerpen.
"He managed all customer contacts, distributed the goods among the couriers and handed out the orders," Attorney Peter Peereboom said according to reports by Het Nieuwsblad.
The Brussels Times