Europol Arrests 15 Individuals Suspected of Smuggling Migrants From France to UK

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15 people involved in smuggling migrants through the English Channel in small boats have been arrested by a joint operation involving law enforcement and judicial authorities from Belgium, France, and Germany and coordinated by Europol and Eurojust.

According to Europol, the investigation focused on an Iraqi-Kurdish network suspected of smuggling irregular migrants from the Middle East and East Africa from France to the United Kingdom using low-quality boats. At the same time, German authorities also raided homes and storage areas, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

This resulted in the arrest of more than 15 individuals under Belgian and French judicial orders following a year and a half long joint investigation under Europolโ€™s OTF Wave. The full press release about the case will be published on 22 February.

Europol

During this month, Europol coordinated with Eurojust to dismantle a criminal network specialised in orchestrating illegal migration to the European Union through sham marriages. This coordinated operation also resulted in the capture of 15 people, with 13 arrested in Cyprus, one in Latvia, and another in Portugal.

Among those arrested, four are considered high-value targets, with two captured in Cyprus, one in Latvia, and one in Portugal. The individuals involved in this transnational network are mainly from India, Pakistan, and Portugal.

Europol has highlighted significant seizures during the operation, including the seizure of electronic equipment and essential documentation integral to the illegal activities of the dismantled syndicate.

This is not the first time that Europol has shown its commitment to fighting the smuggling of immigrants. Thus, in November of last year, a cooperative effort between the Greek and Belgian authorities, reinforced by the support of Europol and Eurojust, dealt a significant blow to a criminal network involved in the illegal transport of immigrants from Athens to Northern Europe.

A total of 11 people were arrested in this operation; eight were arrested in Belgiumtwo in Greece, and one in Sweden. Law enforcement teams executed 16 search warrants, 12 carried out in Belgium and four in Greece. Additionally, raids on two travel agencies in Athens uncovered a trove of incriminating evidence, including phones, electronic devices, and digital materials. Two boxes of forged passports and a substantial sum of nearly โ‚ฌ200,000 were seized.

Such an effort by Europol was also undertaken in August 2023, where 19 individuals were arrested โ€“ 16 Syrians and three Moroccans โ€“ involved in helping to transport undocumented immigrants from Spain to Germany and Norway.

Based on a statement issued from the same, law enforcement authorities conducted checks in seven different places during the operation. Following the operation, around โ‚ฌ10,000 in cash and several documents were confiscated.

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