Police in Europe Dismantle Two Criminal Groups Smuggling Migrants

Police in several European countries have dismantled two criminal groups that were smuggling migrants from Asia into Europe via the Balkan route, Europol said on Thursday.

migrants in truckMigrants in truck (Source Europol)Europol and Eurojust assisted officers from Spain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Romania and Slovenia in dismantling the criminal network that transported the migrants in vans and trucks. 

Croatian police intercepted a truck smuggling 77 migrants, four of whom were minors, and two other vehicles transporting 68 people, mainly from Pakistan. All passengers were driven in life-threatening conditions and charged up to US$23,000 each for the trip. 

The criminal network recruited migrants from camps near the northern border of Bosnia and Herzegovina to transport them to Spain and Italy, and used a number of vehicles to survey the roads and notify drivers of upcoming police checks. 

Authorities estimate that the group made over $2.3 million from smuggling at least 400 migrants. 

Only a day earlier, Dutch and Hungarian authorities in a joint operation with Eurojust dismantled a human trafficking network that hired truck drivers to smuggle Syrian migrants from the Hungarian-Serbian border into the EU. 

Two individuals were arrested during the operation on suspicion of recruiting truck drivers who have already been arrested in Germany and Austria for their involvement in people smuggling.