Vietnamese teen wanted in Belgium over deaths of 39 migrants in lorry facing extradition


A VIETNAMESE teenager wanted in Belgium for his alleged role in the people smuggling plot that led to the deaths of 39 people (pictured above) in the back of a lorry in Essex 13 months ago was arrested at a supermarket petrol station

Alex Tran, 18, was detained by National Crime Agency (NCA) officers just of the A66 in Middlesbrough on June 17 this year on an arrest warrent from Belgium. Belgian prosecutors allege that Tran was a member of the people smuggling network, moving migrants through Belgium and France and into the UK in the back of lorries, that was responsible for the deaths. A Belgian investigating magistrate issued an arrest warrant in December 2020.

The operation to arrest him was supported by the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU). On Thursday, December 2, Westminster Magistrates' Court approved his extradition. He was remanded in custody, and had seven days to appeal. The NCA’s Head of Organised Immigration Crime Operations, Martin Grace, said: “This operation demonstrates our determination to get justice for those who died in October 2019 and track down all of those who played a role in the incident. “It has been another example of our close co-operation with international partners to tackle organised immigration crime, which remains a priority for the NCA.” The extradition follows the convictions of seven people in the UK for their roles in the events which led to the Essex deaths, including four men who were found guilty of manslaughter. The seven were given jail terms totalling more than 92 years in January 2021. Another man wanted by the Belgians in connection with the case, Ngo Sy Tai, was extradited in November, having been arrested by the NCA in Worcestershire in December 2020.