Chinese human trafficking and prostitution network dismantled in Brussels

Last night investigators dismantled a Chinese human trafficking and prostitution network in the Alhambra district of Brussels. De Standaard reports this, and the Belgian public prosecutor's office confirms the news.

During twenty-six searches, federal judicial police could arrest 25 suspects and find 20 suspected victims. "For several years, the presence of Chinese sex workers in Belgium has been increasing, with a heavy focus in Brussels," the Belgian prosecutor's office said.

"The East Flanders Federal Judicial Police launched the investigation into a criminal organisation that brought Chinese women to Europe and forced them to prostitute themselves. After intensive research, the organisation could be brought into focus", the prosecutor's office stated.

The women were mainly used in private prostitution, through online rental platforms, hotels, and vacation rentals, among others. Appointments were booked through specialised sex ad websites. During the Covid period, the activities also shifted to street prostitution, especially visible in the Brussels' Alhambra neighbourhood.

"The victims were frequently moved from location within Europe and had to hand over much of their money"

"The victims were frequently moved from location within Europe and had to hand over much of their money. In addition, a significant portion of the victims no longer have legal residency status, further increasing their dependence on the criminal organisation. The criminal organisation thus acquired large sums of money transferred abroad through legal and illegal channels."

A specialised shelter supports the victims. All the victims and 22 of the suspects are of Chinese origin. Three suspects have Belgian nationality. The investigating judge will later decide which suspects will be arraigned.

Simultaneous to the Belgian intervention, searches and arrests were also carried out in Alicante and Barcelona, Spain, at the request of Belgian investigators. As a result, a suspect was also arrested there. The Belgian prosecutor's office is requesting his surrender. Both Eurojust and Europol made significant contributions to the investigation.






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