A gang of smugglers who wanted to transport refugees by boat gathered

The Federal Police arrested a gang of people smugglers. They tried to take the refugees to the UK in small boats. Six suspects were arrested and three of them were arrested.

In October 2021, a police team from the Ghent police district examined a suspicious car. They found an inflatable boat, an outboard motor and life jackets. The three people who were in the car were arrested for questioning, after which the investigation into people smuggling began. The gang operates mainly from Ghent and is suspected of supplying other organizations responsible for crossing into the UK with so-called small boats.

In the further investigation, there was close cooperation with Holland, where a prime suspect resides. In addition to providing materials (such as boats and life jackets), the organization may have also intended to organize the crossings itself. On Tuesday and Wednesday, suspects were arrested and eight house searches were carried out: five in Ghent, two in Denzi and one in Roeselare. During the searches, three boats and motorcycles were found, as well as about forty inner tubes. These car tires are meant to be used as “life jackets”.

Six suspects were arrested for questioning: a 35-year-old Syrian from the Netherlands, two Syrian brothers (27 and 29) from Ghent, a 30-year-old Belgian/Algerian from Ghent, a 40-year-old Syrian from Roeselare. and a 28-year-old Belgian/Ghanaian from Ghent. The investigating judge arrested three suspects. The Federal Police stated that three other suspects were allowed to leave after being questioned.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Federal Judicial Police in East Flanders are calling for attention to the reporting of suspicious cases in the context of human smuggling. For example, people are required to search for vehicles loaded with inflatable boats and large numbers of life jackets or car tires, and where to store large inflatable boats and life jackets or inner tubes or buy such items in bulk. This can be reported via the emergency number 101 or [email protected].

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Megan Vasquez

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