In a fraud case against a criminal organisation within the Traveller community, 13 suspects appeared on Monday before the Council Chamber, the federal prosecutor’s office stated in the evening. In what is considered the largest joint Belgian police operation in over 20 years, some 1,200 police officers, including 820 federal police investigators, air support and special federal police units were taking part last Tuesday to carry out more than 200 raids throughout Belgium. The operation was supported by French police near the Belgian-French border.
Stolen vehicles and goods were seized in criminal money-laundering operations. Police also confiscated an automatic weapon, handguns, rifles, luxury cars, watches, jewels, one million euros in cash and a total of 90 caravans, 91 vehicles and 34 properties.
The judicial investigation was opened on 2 October 2018, with more than 620 charges listed.
The crimes nearly always followed the same pattern. Criminals posing as buyers would respond to an ad placed by an individual wishing to sell a car. A fraudulent bank transfer would be made in the buyer’s presence and proof of the transaction displayed on a phone or tablet. The vehicle would then quickly be taken by the buyer and driven abroad. The losses resulting from the car thefts exceed 6.5 million euros.
Last Friday, 12 other suspects had already appeared before the Council Chamber, but the case was put forward to this Thursday for all of the suspects.