Police in front of the place where the truck was found in October 2019 in Grays, near London. - Alastair Grant

The 13 people arrested on Tuesday 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, we learned on Saturday from judicial source. They were all indicted on Friday for "trafficking in human beings in an organized gang", "assistance with entry to or stay in an organized gang" and "criminal association". Six of them are also being prosecuted for "manslaughter".

Of the thirteen, twelve were placed in pre-trial detention and one under judicial supervision. These suspects, mostly Vietnamese and French, were arrested Tuesday in various places in the Paris region. At the same time, thirteen other people were also arrested in Belgium as part of an international police operation, coordinated by the judicial cooperation body Eurojust.

Charges in Belgium

In Belgium, 11 people were imprisoned after being charged with "trafficking in human beings with aggravating circumstances, membership of a criminal and false organization and use of false documents", according to the Belgian federal prosecutor's office. Two others, charged with the same charges, were released. According to several sources close to the investigation, a man suspected of being an organizer of the migrant smuggling network was also arrested on Wednesday in Germany, as part of a European arrest warrant issued by France.

On 23 October, 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. According to a French judicial source, the investigators were able to determine, thanks to technical investigations and physical surveillance, that the migrants were leaving from Bierne, in the north of France, towards Zeebrugge.

A long investigation

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 this source. 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 conceal the candidates for the crossing of the Channel, at the rate of 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.


Mass grave truck in London: Thirteen arrests in France, 13 others in Belgium


Mass grave in London: New suspect arrested in Ireland

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