International manhunt for people smuggling crime boss nicknamed 'Scorpion' who lived in Nottingham

Barzan Kamal Majeed, who previously lived in Nottingham, failed to appear in court for his sentence hearing Credit: National Crime Agency

A crime boss who attempted to smuggle more than 100 migrants into the UK on small boats and lorries is being tracked by British and Belgium police.

Nicknamed "Scorpion" after his WhatsApp avatar, Barzan Kamal Majeed has police on both sides of the channel appealing for information regarding his whereabouts.

Majeed moved to the UK in 2013 and lived in Hucknall in Nottingham before being deported two years later in 2015. He is thought to still have connections there.

The head of an organised crime group failed to appear in court in Bruges for his sentence hearing last month.

Despite being absent, he received 10 years in prison for people smuggling. The 36-year-old was also fined 968,000 Euros.

An arrest warrant has been issued for the Iraqi national has been issued.

National Crime Agency (NCA) investigators are working with partners in Belgium to help track the boss after many migrants, who were found illegally crossing the channel, had Majeed’s number stored in their mobile phone under the name “Scorpion”.

A joint investigation involving the NCA, Belgian, Dutch and French law enforcement found 31 separate attempts to smuggle migrants into the UK between July 2018 and November 2019 using small boats, lorries and shipping containers.

The investigation, which was followed by the Belgian prosecution, had already resulted in the UK conviction of fellow crime group member Nzar Jabar Mohamad, aged 35, last year.

Mohamad was jailed for 10 years at Hull Crown Court in October 2021 after he admitted to attempt to bring 21 migrants to the UK using lorries and small boats.

During his appearance in court, he also boasted of smuggling hundreds of women using the same method.

Meanwhile, 23 other people were charged by Belgian authorities this year involved with people smuggling. Three of those people 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 last month.

Six were given suspended prison sentences.

Mohamad was also given an additional two-year sentence and fined 272,000 Euros by the Belgian court.

Martin Clarke from the NCA said: "These convictions represent the destruction of the UK and international arms of this organised crime group, which preyed on the desperation of migrants seeking to cross the channel.

"The information we gathered following Mohamad’s arrest was crucial to the success of the Belgian investigation.

"It shows that organised immigration crime networks usually cross international boundaries, meaning international cooperation is essential to tackling them.

"I would appeal to anyone, anywhere, who has information about where Barzan Kamal Majeed might be to contact us or the Belgian authorities immediately.

"Although he was sentenced in his absence, true justice will only be achieved when he is back on Belgian soil to serve his jail term."