The thirteen people arrested in France during a phone call linked to the investigation into the death of 39 Vietnamese migrants in a refrigerated truck in October in Great Britain were indicted, a few days after the indictment in Belgium of 13 other suspects.
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Accommodation providers, taxi drivers and an alleged organizer of the migrant smuggling network: nearly thirty people in total were arrested this week in France, Belgium and Germany as part of an international police operation , coordinated by the Eurojust judicial cooperation body.
"Duke the Bald"
In France, the thirteen people, who had been arrested in various places in the Paris region, were all indicted Friday for " trafficking in human beings in an organized gang ", " assistance with entry or stay in gang organized ”and“ criminal association ”, according to a judicial source. Six of them are also being prosecuted for " manslaughter ", suspected of being involved in the fatal convoy. Of the thirteen, twelve were placed in pre-trial detention and one under judicial supervision.
In Belgium, thirteen other people arrested on Tuesday at the same time as the French suspects were also charged and eleven of them were imprisoned.
In addition, according to several sources close to the investigation, a man suspected of being an organizer of the migrant smuggling network was arrested on Wednesday in Germany. Nicknamed " Duke the Bald ", this 29-year-old man is the subject of a European arrest warrant issued by France. He " could be the head of the network on the French side, " one of the sources told AFP.
On October 23, the corpses of 31 men and eight women of Vietnamese nationality, including two 15-year-old adolescents, were discovered in a container in the Grays industrial area, east of London. The container came from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.
Mom, dad, I love you very much. I'm dying, I can't breatheOne of the victims
Among the victims, Pham Thi Tra My, 26, had sent a chilling SMS to his relatives, a few hours before the discovery of the bodies. "Mom, dad, I love you very much. I'm dying, I can't breathe, ”wrote My.
This drama, which had a great impact, had brought to light the highly organized clandestine migratory routes between Vietnam and Europe.
According to a French judicial source, the investigators were able to determine that the migrants were leaving from Bierne, in the North of France, towards Zeebrugge.
Those arrested in Ile-de-France are suspected of having hosted and transported migrants by taxi between the Paris region and the North.
According to elements of the investigation known to AFP, several suspects, of Vietnamese nationality, are themselves candidates for passage to England, and are suspected of having agreed to enlist in the traffic by becoming managers of accommodation places in order to obtain a discount on the price of the trip they had to pay to the network.
According to the judicial source, the migrants had to pay between 20,000 and 25,000 euros to reach the United Kingdom, and up to 35,000 euros for the entire trip from Vietnam.
" The court is well aware that these cases are based on the exploitation of victims used to make other victims, " said a magistrate during the public hearing which sent one of these elderly suspects to prison on Friday evening. 23 years.
During their arrests, several illegal immigrants were present on the scene. Heard as witnesses, they all described a journey that led them from Vietnam to France via China, Russia and Eastern Europe.
The network continued to operate after the tragedy, as well as during the confinement. During this period, the traffickers adapted by fitting out the cabs of the trucks to hide the migrants, three or four per trip.
Last month, an arrest had already taken place in Ireland: that of the alleged organizer of the rotation of the drivers participating in the traffic.
In addition, in the British investigation, five people have already been charged, including Maurice Robinson, 25, the driver of the truck intercepted in Grays. In early April, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a London court.