The head of a family gang accused of major drugs trafficking in Antwerp has asked the authorities from his home in Istanbul to be allowed to return to Belgium to clear his name. Bayram Y., head of the so-called Y Clan, was contacted by Het Nieuwsblad newspaper in Istanbul where he fled with his brother Corc as the police investigation into the family business intensified.
Earlier this month, a massive police operation carried out 46 search warrants and took 15 people into custody. Later, an officer of the local police in Antwerp was arrested accused of links to the gang. He was later released on a procedural error, but remains under suspicion.
And this weekend, there were seven more arrests as police carried out searches at 18 more addresses.
Bayram Y admitted he was on the run, and that he faced immediate arrest should he return to Belgium. But he told the newspaper he was willing to come back if it would allow him to clear his own and his family’s name.
“All the same, I’m begging you: let me come to Belgium,” he said. He admitted he had not exactly been a choirboy, but denied allegations that his family, which belongs to the Assyrian Christian community linked to the traffic in humanitarian visas involving a Mechelen city councillor, controlled a large part of the trade in illegal drugs in the port city.
That view was supported by an observer of the drugs scene in Antwerp, who said the Y Clan has not played an important role in the city’s drugs trade for at least 18 months. According to Joris van der Aa, crime reporter for the Gazet van Antwerpen, who told VRT News there are now other major players in the trade, who are not being effectively dealt with by police and prosecutors. The gang had been known about as early as 2011, but a real probe only started in 2017, he said. “The investigation only started when one of the gang was shot. That strikes me as little bit strange.” The man concerned was Y’s nephew Marsin, who was shot five times in the legs after a shipment of cocaine was discovered by customs, allegedly, said Y, by a Moroccan gang.