Belgian Court Jails Trafficker Over Migrant Lorry Deaths

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.


A Belgian court sentenced a Vietnamese man to 15 years in prison on Wednesday after convicting him of being the ringleader in the trafficking of 39 migrants found dead in a lorry.

Vo Van Hong, 45, was found guilty of leading a cross-Channel people-trafficking operation that has been linked to a truck found full of corpses on an English industrial estate in October 2019.

At least 15 of the 39 dead had passed through the Belgian-based trafficking network, which operated two safe houses in the Anderlecht district of Brussels for migrants heading to Britain.

The 2019 discovery on the Grays industrial park east of London was one of the worst involving migrants in recent years.

The victims — 31 men and eight women aged between 15 and 44, all Vietnamese — died from suffocation and hyperthermia in the confined space of the container, which arrived on a ferry from Zeebrugge.

Several suspects have already been convicted and incarcerated in Britain and Vietnam in connection with the case. In France, 26 more have been charged and face trial.

– ‘Well-organised’ –

In Belgium, Vo was one of 23 suspects — both Belgians and Vietnamese — put on trial after a May 2020 police operation in which several addresses, most in the Brussels region, were raided and Vietnamese suspected of links to the gang were rounded up.

Of the 23, a total of 18 — including Vo — were convicted and five were acquitted.

Vo was handed the stiffest sentence, followed by his main lieutenant, who received 10 years, and one driver who received seven years.

The other 15 who were convicted received sentences ranging from one year to four years and two months, most of them with suspensions applied.

Most of the defendants were convicted as members of the people-smuggling ring while others were charged as accomplices, used as safe-house guards, grocery shoppers for the migrants or drivers.

Prosecutors said the “very well-organised” gang was specialised in clandestinely transporting people into Europe then Britain for a fee of 24,000 euros ($27,000) per person.

Vo was convicted of running a criminal organisation in Belgium involved in smuggling a total of 115 identified people to Britain between September 2018 and the date of his arrest in May 2020.

He denied acting as ringleader and claimed he was a “victim” of the smuggling ring.

He was handed a 15-year sentence, the statutory maximum, and a fine of 920,000 euros ($1 million).

Prosecutors said the gang used an Irish trucking company that regularly imported Vietnamese biscuits to get the migrants across the Channel.

Vietnamese gang members took charge of the arriving migrants once they got to Britain.

Many of the dead migrants in the truck came from a poor region in the centre of Vietnam.

Families there rack up thousands of dollars in debt to have a single family member smuggled into Britain in the hope of securing a better life.

NDLEA Busts Online Drug Trafficking Cartel, Arrests Five In Abuja

A file photo of an official of the NDLEA backing the camera.


Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have busted an alleged online drug trafficking cartel that sells drugged cookies, cakes, brownies and all sorts of illicit substances to residents of Abuja.

This was disclosed in a statement issued on Sunday by NDLEA spokesman, Femi Babafemi, adding that the cartel uses the cyber space as its platform.

“As a result, five members of the organised drug criminal group were arrested during sting operations carried out between Friday 7th May and Saturday 8th May, 2021 by officers of the FCT Command of the Agency during which different brands of illicit drugs were recovered from them,” he said.

The suspects – Queen Nvene, Collins Ozoemena, Samson Peter, Chika Nvene, and Habila Musa – were said to specialise in clandestine production of drug-based cookies, brownies and other edibles; markets and sells same online, through their Twitter and Instagram handles.

They were also accused of selling all types of marijuana, Arizona, Colorado and Loud, among other illicit drugs, online.

The statement added, “While Queen Nvene, a graduate of Business Administration, produces drug cookies and brownies and sells same on Instagram, Collins Ozoemena sells all types of illicit drugs, especially Loud and skunk online.

“Samson Peter on the other hand, is the manager of SK express courier company, who manages motorcycles and dispatch riders to deliver illicit drugs from Collins and drugged edibles (cookies, cakes and brownies) from Queen and Chika, both sisters. Members of the cartel operate from different locations within the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, but operate as a network.

“Their arrest followed online orders of drug-based edibles by undercover agents. Supplies of brownies and cookies were delivered and received from different SK Express dispatch riders at various times by narcotic operatives before the final sting operation.”

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According to the Commander, FCT Command of the Agency, Mohammed Malami Sokoto, follow up raids of their various locations in Gudu, Kubwa, Lokogoma, Apo and Damangazo all in Abuja, led to the seizure of some illicit substances.

Items recovered from the suspects included 55 pieces of drugged cookies and brownies, 1.3 kilogrammes of skunk used as ingredient for making cookies and brownies, 0.9 grammes of ecstasy, popularly called molley, 300 grammes of skunk, 00 grammes of Loud and 300 grammes of skunk.

Other items recovered from the syndicate include: a dispatch motorcycle, various equipment for producing cookies and brownies, 10 telephone handsets and two laptops used for online drug trafficking transactions.

NDLEA said the suspects confessed to have a large platform of customers who order for drugs and drug-based cookies, brownies and edibles, on daily basis for parties and ceremonies, in and outside Abuja.

They said they use the manager of SK Express courier company to deliver their products through motorcycle riders and power bikers popularly called droppers.

They further claimed they have been in the business for over three years.

Similarly, NDLEA operatives intercepted and seized 60kilogrammes of cannabis in Akure-South Local Government Area, leading to the arrest of a 29-year-old man, Emmanuel Utaji.

Acting Commander of the Agency in the state, Callys Alumona disclosed that the location was raided at about 9:45pm following intelligence, adding that the suspect was apprehended when the consignment was to be evacuated and taken outside the state.

Also in Rivers State, a suspected drug dealer and armed robber, Sanusi Abdullahi was nabbed by operatives of the agency at Iroko village, where 15.8 kilogrammes of skunk and 16 sim cards were recovered from him on Saturday.

NDLEA Rivers State Commander, Rachael Shelleng, stated that further investigation would unravel other criminal activities perpetrated by the suspect.

Reacting to the development, NDLEA Chairman/Chief Executive, Brig. General Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) commended the FCT, Ondo and Rivers Commands of the Agency and charged them not to rest on their oars.

He said, “I’m particularly impressed with the speed with which the officers of our FCT Command disrupted the online drug trafficking cartel that has been ravaging the nation’s capital for over three years and I must commend them and their counterparts in Ondo and Rivers for their recent feats.”

Police Nab Suspected Human Trafficker, Rescue Six Victims In Nasarawa

The suspected trafficker arrested by the Nasarawa State Police Command on October 5, 2020.


The police authorities in Nasarawa State have arrested a 40-year-old woman, Rita Oti for alleged human trafficking at Nasarawa Eggon Local Government Area of the state.

The arrest was confirmed on Tuesday via a statement issued by the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Ramhan Nansel.

The suspect who is also known as “Mama Gee” is said to be an indigene of Ebonyi State and was intercepted in a Volkswagen Sharon vehicle driven by Godwin Yaasa with six occupants.

According to the police spokesman, the other occupants of the car were within the age range of 16 to 24, adding that they were heading for the Alagbado area of Lagos State.

“On 29/09/2020 at about 1430hrs, Police personnel attached to Nasarawa Eggon division, acting based on credible information, intercepted a Volkswagen Sharan vehicle driven by  one Godwin Yaasa ‘m’ aged 35yrs of Benue State conveying one Rita Oti and six other occupants whose age ranges from 16yrs to 24yrs on transit to Lagos State,” the statement partly read.

Upon interrogation, the police discovered that the suspect lured the victims from Benue State under the pretext of giving them jobs without their parents’ consent.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police, Bola Longe has ordered the transfer of the case to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Lafia for exhaustive investigation and reunite the victims with their families.

The police boss asked residents of the State to be wary of criminals who disguise as destiny helpers in order to carry out their evil agenda.

Again, Suspected Trafficker Intercepted With 27 Children In Taraba

A file photo of Mary Yakubu



The police in Taraba State have again arrested a suspected child trafficker, Mary Yakubu, with 27 children.

The Police Public Relations Officer in Taraba, David Misal, disclosed Yakubu’s arrest in a statement on Monday.

He noted that it was the third time the suspect would be arrested, making it 60 children that have been rescued from her.

READ ALSO: Police Nab Suspected Trafficker With 23 Children In Taraba

Misal explained that the children were rescued on Sunday at Tashan Takalma community in Gassol Local Government Area of the state.

The 27 rescued children comprise 14 males and 13 females.

According to him, 33 children have been reunited with their parents while the suspect is undergoing trial in a court.

The command’s spokesman added that the newly rescued 27 children have been handed over to the State Ministry of Women Affairs.

The suspect was first arrested on February 26 in Bali by the detectives attached to the Bali Police Division in connection with a case of suspected child trafficking.

Upon her arrest, she was found with 23 children while making an arrangement to convey them to an unknown destination.

Yakubu was again arrested on March 4 and led a team of investigation police officers to Mararaban Donga, in Donga LGA of Taraba, where additional 10 children were rescued.

Police Nab Suspected Trafficker With 23 Children In Taraba

Mary Yakubu



The police have arrested a suspected child trafficker, Mary Yakubu, with 23 children in Taraba State.

The children, who are between the ages of four and seven, comprise 14 boys and nine girls.

Mary was paraded along with other suspects on Monday at the State Police Command headquarters in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital.

The Police Public Relations Officer, David Misal, told reporters that the suspect was intercepted with the kids at a park in Bali Local Government Area of the state while they were about to board a vehicle.

He revealed that the 23 children have been handed over to the Ministry of Social Welfare in the state.

Misal added that seven parents of some of the children have been arrested in connection with the crime while investigation was ongoing to apprehend others.

On her part, the suspect claimed that the children were given to her by their parents to help get those in need of children to take care of them.


“The parents of the children told me to come get them for people who would help cater to their educational needs because, in their villages, there are no schools.

“This is actually the first time I am doing this, and I did not collect any money from their parents,” Mary claimed.

She added, “I am a mother of seven, a teacher at Adamu Primary School in Bali LGA. I am 45 years and was arrested at the car park in Bali when I was about leaving with the children.”

The Police Public Relations Officer also paraded seven members of a kidnap syndicate terrorising residents in parts of the state.


He disclosed that the suspects engaged the police in a gun duel following the kidnap of one Tashi Abba who was abducted from his residence.

In the course of fire exchange, according to Misal, the police killed a notorious kidnapper identified as Isa Passion and recovered one single barrel gun.

He also paraded eight suspected armed robbers and a syndicate of car snatchers said to have stolen 30 vehicles in Jalingo.

All the suspects confessing to committing the crimes they were accused of.

Immigration Officials Arrest Suspected Human Trafficker In Katsina

The Katsina State Command of the Nigeria Immigration Service has arrested a suspected human trafficker on her way to Niger Republic.

The command’s comptroller, Ajisafe Joshua, confirmed this on Monday, adding that the suspect had been shuttling between Nigeria and Libya where she allegedly engages in human trafficking and prostitution.

“The suspected trafficker, Mrs Essien Rita is in possession of a resident visa of the State of Libya and her passport indicated that she is a frequent traveller. That means she always moves between here and Libya, recruiting victims either for slavery or prostitution,” he said.

Ajisafe also stated that men of the service rescued a trafficking victim during their patrol near the border.

According to him, the victim identified as Mrs Adeoye Oluwaseyi who is an indigene of Ondo State, said she was lured by one Seun who had promised her a job in Niger Republic where he resides.

The immigration boss reiterated the commitment of the service in ridding the country of the menace of human trafficking and irregular migration.