In October 2019, a tragic incident unfolded as the bodies of migrants, including two young individuals aged only 15, were found inside an airtight container at a port near London.
After journeying in a truck from northern France to Belgium, they proceeded to cross the Channel and arrive in Britain.
Among the individuals facing trial in France, there are a total of 19 defendants with diverse backgrounds. This group encompasses individuals of Vietnamese, French, Chinese, Algerian, and Moroccan descent.
The prosecutors presented evidence of a large-scale illegal immigration operation, overseen by the 19 defendants currently standing trial in France. These individuals are accused of assisting in the illegal entry, transportation, and harboring of foreigners within the country, all as members of an organized criminal syndicate.
In addition to that, they are actively pursuing convictions for criminal conspiracy which, if found guilty, carry penalties of up to 10 years' imprisonment.
The trial for manslaughter is currently underway, and it involves only four defendants. These individuals are commonly referred to as "Tony," "Hoang," "Long," and "Thang."
During his closing speech, prosecutor Alexis Liberge expressed how the defendants, driven by their pursuit of profit, callously endangered the victims, whom they viewed merely as commodities to be stacked like chickens. Additionally, some of the defendants deceitfully portrayed themselves as victims of the very system that they exploited.
On October 22, 2019, a tragic incident occurred where the lives of 31 men and eight women, all hailing from Vietnam and ranging in age from 15 to 44, were abruptly cut short. They had been unlawfully confined within a trailer in northern France, only to be discovered lifeless the following day in an industrial area located to the east of London.
The calamity has brought the discussion about human trafficking and pathways for migrants into a prominent position.
Tony, Hoang, Long, and Thang are facing the possibility of being sentenced to nine to ten years in prison, as well as substantial fines and permanent bans from France, according to prosecutors.
The four remaining Vietnamese defendants, with the exception of two who were absent from the hearing and are currently considered fugitives, are expected to receive sentences ranging from nine to ten years' imprisonment.
The prosecutor aimed to secure acquittals for the remaining defendants regarding charges of criminal conspiracy. However, they sought convictions for aiding and abetting illegal entry, movement, and residence of foreigners in France as members of an organized gang.
The conclusion of the trial is set for Friday.
In 2021, a trial took place in Britain where two individuals, one Romanian and the other British, were found guilty as the main orchestrators of the operation. Following their conviction, they were sentenced to 27 and 20 years of imprisonment respectively.
The network consisted of various other suspects who were involved as drivers, and they were sentenced to serve a range of 12 to 20 years. Additionally, a Vietnamese man who was found to be leading the local cell of the gang received a 15-year prison term from a Belgian court.