Bulgarian Detained in Belgium over Suspicions of Migrant Trafficking to UK
Bulgarian citizen Aldin N. (41) was handed to Belgium authorities on suspicion of leading an organised crime group for illegal trafficking of migrants to the UK, Belgian media reported on January 7, reports BNT.
According to the investigation, he managed car repair shops in Belgium, where concealments were built and placed into vehicles. The concealments could fit up to nine migrants whose journeys usually started from Afghanistan or Pakistan, crossed Turkey and Bulgaria to reach Western Europe and transfer to the British coast.
The investigation began in 2016 at the British port of Dover, where customs officers suspected a lorry with a Bulgarian registration. The external volume of the vehicle did not correspond to the internal cargo cavity, so the customs officers requested additional inspection. Thus they found five people in a concealment, including three underage children. A warning was issued to European offices to monitor such fraud attempts.
By October 2017, European customs officers identfied 55 similar cases. The UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, France and Bulgaria were involved in the investigation. The Belgian prosecutor's office has charged seven people, and the court case against them begins this week in Ghent.
It is noted that the concealments were extremely airtight and uncomfortable and some of them directly threatened the security and life of migrants. In one case, the concealment was 74 x 63 x 35 cm, while in another vehicle the migrant had to fit in the engine compartment, at the place of the spare tire and part of the cooling system.
Tapped telephone calls have proven that traffickers knew how difficult it was to travel in such conditions. They even made a test which showed that they could stand in such conditions for no more than seven minutes.
For transportation from the Bulgarian-Turkish border to Great Britain, migrants paid 10,000 euros each. Transferring a migrant from France to the UK cost 1,300 euros, the statement says.
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