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26 arrested in people-smuggling case linked to UK truck deaths

26 arrested in deaths of migrants found in truck

PARIS — More than two dozen people have been arrested in Belgium and France in connection with the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants whose bodies were found in a refrigerated truck in Britain in October, authorities in both countries said Wednesday.

Prosecutors’ offices in Paris and Brussels said the 26 suspects were believed to be part of a broader human trafficking network that had transported not only those found dead in the truck but several dozen people a day for months.

Most of the trafficked migrants came from Vietnam, including the eight women and 31 men who crossed the English Channel in a container and were discovered Oct. 23 in an industrial area of Essex, about 25 miles east of London, and not far from the ferry terminal where the truck had arrived from Belgium.

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The fatal journey plunged communities in Vietnam into sorrow, and it shed a grim light on what smugglers call the “CO2 route,” the uncertain and dangerous trip that many undertake from Southeast Asia in search for better opportunities in Europe.

The discovery of the 39 victims, including three minors, prompted an investigation in four European countries that led Tuesday to the arrest of 13 people in the Brussels area and 13 others in the vicinity of Paris.

NEW YORK TIMES