Anti-Smuggling Operation Nabs 103
One hundred and three people allegedly tied to a smuggling network were arrested in 10 European countries on Tuesday, according to a Europol press release. Arrests took place in Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Slovak Republic, Turkey, and the Kosovo region. Switzerland and Austria officials were also involved in the operation.
Those arrested are suspected of illegally trafficking migrants, mainly from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, and Turkey, into and throughout the European Union. Migrants were transported in “inhuman and dangerous conditions,” including hidden compartments in bus floors, and in freight trains. The traffickers also utilized false travel documents and marriages of convenience as a means to subvert law enforcement, according to Europol.
The anti-trafficking operation was one of the largest of its kind; over 1,200 police officers, coordinated by Europol, were involved in the action. Police seized over 176,500 Euros in cash during the 117 searches conducted during the operation.
Tuesday’s operation is a result of Project FIMATHU, a September 2011 initiative by Austria and Hungary to stem illegal immigration into their countries. The project, aimed at dismantling organized illegal immigration networks, has since grown to include 10 new members, Europol said.