A large criminal network involved in smuggling approximately 10 000 Afghan, Iranian, Iraqi-Kurdish and Syrian migrants has been broken up by law enforcement authorities in France and the Netherlands.
Supported by Europol and Eurojust, the French Border Guard, the French National Police and the Dutch Royal Marechaussee arrested 23 suspected members of the criminal network - 19 in France and four in the Netherlands - and carried out five searches, seizing firearms and vehicles. Irregular migrants discovered during the searches were taken to safety.
Up to €7 000 for a spot in a refrigerated lorry
According to Europol, the criminal network is suspected of having facilitated the transportation of the migrants from the areas of Le Mans and Poitiers in France to the United Kingdom. Refrigerated lorries were crowded with up to 20 migrants who were transported in life-threatening conditions. Europol reports that the migrants paid up to €7 000 for the dangerous journey via an undercover ‘hawala’ banking system run by a suspect in the Netherlands. It is thought that the criminal gang earned around €70 million in profit from their illegal activities.
Europol supported the case by organising two operational meetings to facilitate information exchange. It provided tailored analytical support by deploying one expert to France and one to the Netherlands to cross-check operational information.
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