Eleven suspects were apprehended in a joint operation by Leuven and East and West Flanders prosecution and federal judicial police of Leuven and East and West Flanders, each Prosecutor’s Office announced on Thursday. The traffickers had been selling and organising transfers to the UK by lorry, in exchange for sums of up to 3,500 euros. They worked out of the E40 motorway service areas and laybys, but also via Belgian ports and other major roads like the E17. They also favoured parking areas more inland such as those on the A2 around Rotselaar and Heverlee, the E411 in Bierges or the Ranst lay-by on the E313. Industrial parks around Furnes were also being used for their trafficking activity. The joint prosecution believe regular operations run by the authorities forced them to change spots several times.
The three Prosecutor’s Offices (Leuven, East Flanders and West Flanders) led a joint operation in Brussels and its surroundings, conducted during the night between Monday and Tuesday this week. The operation took advantage of about 200 police to help intercept 10 suspects and capture of seventeen illegal immigrants between Rotselaar and Bierges. A new suspect was also arrested in Molenbeek on Wednesday. The eleven people arrested are from Iraq, Turkey, Bulgaria, Albania, Iran and Afghanistan.
“This offensive succeeded in dismantling an important network of human traffickers who were organising clandestine lorry journeys to the UK for illegal immigrants on an almost daily basis,” said Sarah Callewaert of Leuven prosecution services. “The investigation has still a long way to go and there will be more arrests in the future.”