Police arrest 26 over UK Vietnamese migrant truck deaths

Cheryl Sanders
May 29, 2020

The discovery of the bodies of 39 migrants in a lorry in an industrial zone around Grays in Essex on 23 October 2019 provoked an global outcry.

Brussels, May 28 (SocialNews.XYZ) European agencies investigating the death of 39 Vietnamese migrants, who were found dead in a refrigerated lorry in the UK's Essex county past year, have arrested 26 people in France and Belgium allegedly linked to human trafficking organizations.

The probe has discovered that the migrants who died were loaded onto the truck in northern France, and that the network continued its operations even after the tragedy, charging 15,000 to 20,000 euros to cross from France to Britain.

On October 23, 2019, English police found 31 men and eight women dead inside a lorry's refrigerated container.

Belgian police had arrested 13 people as part of an ongoing investigation into the transit of mainly Asian irregular migrants, according to the European Union law enforcement agency.

Europol said 21 migrants had been found and taken to safety, and three vehicles were seized, along with cash and electronic equipment.

The organisation is suspected of transporting mainly Vietnamese immigrants through Belgium and France towards the UK.

Prompted by the discovery of 39 deceased Vietnamese nationals inside a refrigerated trailer in Essex in the United Kingdom in October 2019, a joint investigation team (JIT) was created between Belgium, Ireland, France, the United Kingdom, Eurojust and Europol.

In Belgium, the federal public prosecutor's office said the investigation quickly established the route taken by the victims before they got into the truck and said some of them had stayed in Belgium before their departure.

Vietnam, British authorities have said, is one of the main sources of human trafficking victims into Britain, where they work in nail salons or factories, and face exploitation and abuse from organized trafficking gangs.

Pham and those who died in October had come from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, which has been used by networks as a smuggling point to Britain for decades.

The investigation revealed the migrants had lost their lives due to the lack of oxygen and hypothermia.

In October previous year, 39 dead bodies were discovered in the truck in an industrial zone close to London.

If proven guilty, the arrested persons can be sentenced to 15 years in prison and a fine of €1,000-150,000 ($1,100-165,0000) each, according to the Belgian authorities.

Last month, the truck driver pleaded guilty to manslaughter at a London court.

Other reports by iNewsToday