UK crime investigators are working with Belgian authorities to track down the head of an organised crime group that attempted to smuggle more than 100 migrants to the UK in small boats and lorries.
Iraqi national Barzan Kamal Majeed, nicknamed “Scorpion” after his WhatsApp avatar, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for people smuggling offences in his absence at a court in Bruges last month.
The 36-year-old, formerly of Nottingham, was also fined 968,000 Euros. A warrant has been issued for his arrest, and investigators on both sides of the channel are now appealing for information about his whereabouts.
Majeed moved to the UK in 2013 and lived in the Hucknall area of Nottingham, where he is understood to still have connections. He was deported from the UK in 2015 to the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq.
The Belgian prosecution followed a joint investigation involving the UK National Crime Agency, Belgian, Dutch and French law enforcement into 31 separate attempts to smuggle migrants into the UK between July 2018 and November 2019 using small boats, lorries and shipping containers.
Many of the migrants had Majeed’s number stored in their mobile phone under the name “Scorpion”. The investigation had already resulted in the UK conviction of fellow crime group member Nzar Jabar Mohamad, 35, last year. He also boasted of smuggling hundreds of women using the same method.
A further 23 people were charged by the Belgian authorities this year, including three who were arrested in the UK by the NCA and extradited to Belgium. Seventeen were convicted and jailed for a total of 32 years during the same hearing as Majeed’s.
Mohamad was also given an additional two-year sentence and fined 272,000 Euros by the Belgian court.
“40,000 people have crossed the English Channel in small boats so far this year.
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Source: UK crime officers begin bid to track down migrant smuggling boss nicknamed ‘Scorpion’