Five suspected human traffickers and dozens of migrants found inside trucks were detained following a large scale police operation targetting a presumed human trafficking gang operating out of Brussels, police said on Thursday.
The operation was carried out jointly by local and federal police units and saw sniffer dogs and a helicopter deployed to a parking lot in Kalken along the E17 highway, east of Ghent, according to BX1.
Two people were detained during that raid, which took place overnight on 21 August, with a third one found during a search of a home in Schaerbeek, where police said all members of the group lived.
Two other people, thought to be staying in Belgium undocumented and believed to be members of the gang, had already been detained by other police services and were both transferred to the 127bis migrant holding facility near Brussels Airport.
All 33 migrants found hiding inside trucks during the parking lot raid in Kalken were apprehended by police.
The police operation was launched by prosecutors in East Flanders following regular interceptions of migrants, most of Ethiopian or Erythrean nationality, the outlet reported.
“The members of the gang lived in the Brussels-Capital Region took the migrants from Brussels and to the Beervelde rail station by train” the outlet quotes the federal police as saying.
“From there, they arrived in the parking lot in Kalken where they placed the migrants onboard trains on their way to the United Kingdom,” he explained, adding that the migrants, said to be men and women and teenagers, had to hide in between the trucks’ shipment.