Police arrest 'leader' of human smuggling gang
13 October 2005, BRUSSELS — Police arrested in Liége on Thursday morning a man suspected of being the leader of large-scale human smuggling gang that was busted in London on Tuesday.
13 October 2005
BRUSSELS — Police arrested in Liége on Thursday morning a man suspected of being the leader of large-scale human smuggling gang that was busted in London on Tuesday.
Belgian police had previously grown suspicious of the Turkish man, but could not arrest him on Tuesday when Scotland swooped on the network because he was in Germany at the time.
Police arrested him on Thursday morning after he returned to his home city of Liége, newspaper 'Het Laatste Nieuws' reported.
A spokeswoman for the federal public prosecution office said six other suspects — two Iranians, two Belgians of Turkish origin and two Turkish nationals — were also arrested during raids in Liége and in the region around Antwerp.
Spokeswoman Lieve Pellens also said the chief suspect and six accomplices will be placed at the disposal of an investigating judge, who is expected to place hold them on remand.
Scotland Yard has long considered Belgium as the axis of the human smuggling network, which allegedly also had branches in the Netherlands and Germany.
Brussels judicial authorities have been involved in investigations into the alleged network for two and a half years. Surveillance tactics have involved the tapping the phones of suspects.
Scotland Yard's operation 'Maxim' netted 18 suspects on Tuesday, most of whom were arrested in London.
According to the British press agency Press Association, the network is suspected of smuggling 200,000 illegal immigrants — most of them Turkish Kurds — into the UK.
The illegal immigrants paid sums ranging from EUR 4,500 to 7,000 for the trip. After a journey of several months, the illegals were then smuggled into the UK in trucks and cars.
Some of them made the journey over the Strait of Dover on small airplanes that landed at small airports in the UK.
The smugglers are alleged to have invested the money earned into bars, billiard halls and real estate.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news