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Europol Dismantles Major Migrant Smuggling Network in Europe, Arresting 19 - 98 Views

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Europol Dismantles Major Migrant Smuggling Network in Europe, Arresting 19

In a collaborative effort with German, French, and Belgian police, Europol announced the dismantling of one of the largest migrant smuggling networks operating across the English Channel. Nineteen individuals were arrested in Germany, including the network’s leader and four key organizers.

The investigation primarily targeted an Iraqi-Kurdish network suspected of smuggling irregular migrants from the Middle East and East Africa from France to the UK, utilizing low-quality inflatable boats. Launched at the end of 2022, the operation uncovered the network’s involvement in purchasing, storing, and transporting inflatable boats, mostly of Chinese origin, used to smuggle migrants from Calais beaches in France to the UK.

The suspects would overcrowd the inflatable boats, designed for a maximum of 10 passengers, with an average of 50 migrants. Charging each migrant between 1,000-3,000 euros ($1,081-$3,242), the network profited from the perilous journeys.

The operational task force, Wave, conducted 28 searches in Germany, resulting in the seizure of 24 inflatable boats, a significant amount of nautical equipment, 60 electronic devices, weapons, and several thousand euros in cash. Approximately 900 German police officers participated in the operation.

This successful intervention comes against the backdrop of a surge in irregular immigration from Western Africa to the EU, as reported by the EU’s Frontex border agency earlier this month. The arrests mark a significant step in dismantling a major player in migrant smuggling, emphasizing the importance of cross-border collaboration in tackling such criminal networks.

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