Ten people were arrested during raids in the Brussels region on Sunday. Three were released without charge while the remaining seven – all male – were placed in pre-trial detention.
All have since been officially charged with offences relating to “human trafficking within the framework of a criminal organisation,” the Brussels public prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
The trafficking ring was based in Brussels and would smuggle “up to 20 migrants” into Britain a day by hiding them inside UK-bound refrigerated lorries, according to prosecutors.
The migrants are said to have paid the smugglers anything between £430 and £2,200 (€500 and €2,500) each for the journey, local prosecutors said.
The investigation was launched by the federal judicial police of Brussels in late July following the arrest of a group of illegal immigrants near the city’s Gard du Nord station.
The number of illegal immigrants in the UK is rising by 70,000 a year, according to a Migration Watch UK report published last month.
It estimates that the gross annual rise in the illegal immigrant population – visa overstayers, clandestine arrivals and failed asylum seekers – is 105,000 a year, while only about 35,000 of the annual total are being deported or depart voluntarily.