15 people have been arrested in joint Belgo-British operation to disrupt an Albanian crime group attempting to smuggle migrants to the UK in lorries
Two men accused of heading up the UK arm of a network, which used a hotel in Ghent as a holding point for migrants, have appeared before Westminster Magistrates. The men have been remanded in custody pending their extradition to Belgium.
This follows 13 arrests in simultaneous raids in Belgium, UK and Germany this week as part of a joint investigation by the National Crime Agency and Belgium’s Federal Police in to an Albanian organised crime group (OCG). The capture of the OCG’s suspected ringleader in Ghent on 23 September triggered the arrests.
The operation led to the discovery of 37 Albanian nationals in a hotel in Ghent who investigators suspect were waiting for transportation to the UK. The OCG would charge the migrants up to 15,000€ a time to reach the UK hidden in lorries.
Martin Shearman British Ambassador to Belgium said:
This is an excellent result for the National Crime Agency and Belgian Federal Police who will continue to work tirelessly to pursue those who exploit the defenceless.
Full details on the operation can be found on the website of the National Crime Agency.