4-10 thousand euros per person/ 4 people from the organized crime group that transported illegal immigrants are arrested

2023-06-08 09:29:00, Kronika CNA

4-10 thousand euros per person/ 4 people from the organized crime group that

Europol has supported a joint investigation between Germany, Romania and Serbia into an organized crime network smuggling migrants through the Balkan route. The operation, facilitated by Eurojust at judicial level as well as the South-East European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC), also involved authorities from Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Turkey.

The operation revealed 15 controlled locations (4 in Germany and 11 in Romania), 4 people were arrested (1 in Germany and 3 in Romania).

3 vehicles, mobile phones and electronic devices, documents and cash were also seized.

Authorities launched the investigation after a number of intercepts of irregular migrants in parts of Germany's border with Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland. The criminal network demanded between 4,000 and 10,000 euros per person to smuggle it from Turkey to Germany through the Balkan route. Smuggling between Romania and Germany cost between 4,000 and 5,000 euros.

German and Romanian authorities investigated members of the criminal network since late 2022, linking them to the discovery of more than 870 migrants during 93 smuggling incidents. In Romania, the local cell of the criminal network gathered the migrants in Timisoara before transporting them further to Germany. This Romanian cell was involved in renting and managing hideouts in the Arad and Timisoara areas. There, they herded migrants into overcrowded accommodation to bring different groups together before moving them onward to Germany. The suspects have created this organization to optimize logistics and maximize criminal profits.

Members of the criminal group used vans that drove ahead of the migrant trucks while communicating via mobile apps to detect and avoid possible police checks. During this last part of the smuggling route to Germany, the migrants were placed in extremely dangerous conditions, facing lack of ventilation and other threats to their safety. In some cases, migrants would be forced to hide among the cargo in such conditions for several days at a time.

Europol facilitated the exchange of information between participating authorities and provided operational coordination and analytical support. On the day of the action, Europol sent an analyst to Romania to enable real-time exchange of information and cross-checking of operational information against Europol databases to provide guidance to investigators on the ground.

At the end of 2022, Eurojust set up a joint investigative team between Germany, Romania and Serbia./ CNA.al

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