200 Indians arrested in EU human smuggling racket
Sunday, 19 October , 2008, 00:22
Brussels: Fifteen members of an international human trafficking gang were today arrested in Belgium where they had brought nearly 200 Indian citizens seeking to enter Britain illegally.
Belgium has often figured in investigations as one of the places where illegal immigrants are brought before they are dispersed illegally in various countries in the European Union.
The destination of Indians involved in such illegal immigration is usually Britain, which has a large population of Indian and south Asian origin.
The arrests were made following raids by the Belgian authorities on suspected safe-houses. Nearly 50 Indians were discovered hiding in a gurdwara in a suburb of Vilvorde, media reports said.
“This morning we executed a series of search warrants to intercept all the suspects. This operation proved this is happening on a large scale, because we found more than 200 illegal Indians,” Tim De Wolf, an assistant prosecutor dealing with the case, was quoted as saying by the media.
The raids were conducted following a year-long investigation by EU authorities into one of the most notorious routes of international illegal immigration with roots in Punjab.
The arrests came within hours after British immigration minister Phil Woolas said the number of migrants allowed into the UK under the points system may have to be reduced because of the economic crisis.