Network of people smugglers broken up

On 10 April, the European Union’s Judicial Cooperation Unit (Eurojust) said that Austrian and Romanian security forces have arrested 11 people accused of illegally smuggling migrants to Europe.

The network is believed to have smuggled migrants from countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Pakistan, charging fees ranging from 1,800 USD to 8,000 USD. Migrants were illegally trafficked through Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary to western Europe.

According to Associated Press, the smugglers are also suspected of bribing Hungarian border police in order to cross the border.
During the joint operation, which was conducted in western parts of Romania, police searched 25 properties and confiscated documents, phones and money. Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement that a Pakistani national was among those arrested, while the others were European Union nationals.

“In 2017 alone, the organized crime group was responsible for six large-scale transports of migrants from Romania to Austria that were intercepted by the national law enforcement authorities,” Eurojust said.
“People smugglers are using green borders less and less -through a forest or field for example – as border control mechanisms have been ramped up in the Balkan countries, at external EU borders and in the Schengen area. Smugglers now opt for different means of transportation, such as lorries,” a spokesperson from Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, said.

Europol also said that the criminal gangs operating illegal people smuggling transports pose a threat to the lives of migrants trying to reach Europe, as these transportation methods are becoming increasingly dangerous.

TMP – 09/05/2018

Photo credit: Bor Benedek, CC2.0
Caption: Police vehicle at Hungary-Serbia border