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Brussels beauty salons suspected of ties to human trafficking

14:32 18/05/2024

Police have carried out a series of raids and spot checks in the past few weeks as part of an investigation into human trafficking, with some Brussels nail salons thought to be under the control of a criminal organisation.

The investigation is continuing, the Auditorat du Travail labour inspection authority said, but initial details indicate that the criminal organisation would have brought victims – mostly Vietnamese people – to Belgium to force them to work in the beauty salons.

It is claimed that the victims were paid far below the legal minimum wage and did not receive their salary immediately, while the organisation arranged for residence permits for the victims under asylum or family reunification grounds.

Some victims are said to be in transit to the UK.

A first wave of searches took place on 22 April, during which large sums of money were seized and 17 suspects were taken into custody, along with 12 other individuals who were detained for offences relating to their immigration status.

After being questioned, six people were charged while 11 were conditionally released. The accused deny any involvement in the events.

A second wave of searches took place on 25 April in nail salons thought to be controlled by the criminal organisation.

Four people were placed under administrative arrest and nine nail salon businesses were ordered to close by decision of the investigating judge.

Photo: Twingo/Wikimedia. Licensed under Creative Commons

Written by Helen Lyons