A court in Bruges, Belgium, today sentenced 20 suspects to prison terms ranging from 30 months to 11 years for their involvement in migrant smuggling. He was also ordered to pay a fine of up to 80,000 euros.
The suspects were arrested in July 2022 in an unprecedented international operation targeting a criminal network suspected of using small boats to smuggle up to 10,000 migrants across the English Channel. The measure was carried out jointly by authorities from several countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, with support from Eurojust and Europol.
Thanks to intensive cooperation and information exchange, the authorities concerned were able to deal a serious blow to one of the most important criminal groups involved in the smuggling of migrants across the Channel. During the action day on July 5, 2022, 39 people were arrested and more than 50 simultaneous searches were conducted in multiple countries.
The organized crime group is believed to have facilitated the smuggling of Vietnamese people into the UK, among others. To accomplish this, criminal networks have built extensive infrastructure. Investigation revealed that the migrants were being transported to Britain in motorized boats supplied by Germany.
Eurojust played a key role in supporting the investigation and facilitating cross-border judicial cooperation among all parties involved. During the action day, Eurojust set up a coordination center to enable rapid cooperation between judicial authorities. The agency hosted four coordination meetings to promote judicial cooperation and preparations for a joint day of action.
For more information:
Belgian Press Secretary:
Amelie Van Bereghem, Judge
+32 473 55 16 10