Migrant Smugglers Arrested In Romania

Published: 02 March 2021

Weapons Romania ImmigrantsWeapons seized during the Romanian Police operation. (Photo: Romanian Police/EUROPOL)

By Sadie Brown

Romanian Police uncovered and dismantled Monday a suspected human smuggling organization believed to have tried to smuggle 30 illegal migrants further into the EU from Romania, according to a Europol press release.

The investigation led to the arrest of seven people who allegedly smuggled Indian nationals in lorry containers and vans from Romania into countries like Germany, Italy, and Portugal for around 5000-6000 euro (US$6000-$7200) per person.

A video released with the press statement shows police using a battering ram to break down the door of what appears to be a storage facility. Officers enter a room filled with barrels and wooden pallets with people secreted away in the back of the unit with blankets and pillows.

This alleged smuggling method follows a larger trend toward using sealed containers and vans in human smuggling according to an analysis by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. These methods have proven more deadly for irregular migrants.

The investigation began over a year ago in September 2019 when authorities were notified about a suspected criminal organization of Indian and Romanian nationals with branches in several Eastern European countries facilitating the illegal crossing of borders from within Romania.

The suspected leaders of the gang were arrested in November of 2020 and January of 2021.

Monday’s action had extensive multinational support from Austria, Czechia, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Serbia along with organizations like Europol, the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism, the General Inspectorate of the Border Police and Directorate for Preventing and Combating Illegal Migration and Cross-Border Crime.