Cross-Border Bust: 78 Arrested for Shuttling Migrants from Kosovo to EU Countries
Nearly 400 law enforcement officials have collaborated to make 78 arrests in a cross-border effort to bust a huge human trafficking ring.
According to the European Union’s police force Europol, the alleged crime network is suspected of smuggling migrants from Kosovo into the EU. The arrests were made inAustria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and Kosovo.
Officials believe the suspects, who mostly hail from countries in Central Europe and the Western Balkans, recruited migrants in Kosovo and arranged their entry into EU countries.
Europol said the migrants would usually travel to Serbia, where they would meet the smugglers and cross over the border into EU member country Hungary. Some allegedly continued on to Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and France.
The traffickers charged about € 2,800 Euro (US$ 3,058) per person and € 7,000 Euro (US$ 7,644) per family, according to Europol.
While Europol initially reported that 77 were arrested, Kosovo police detained another suspect early yesterday morning.
Irregular migration from Kosovo into the EU is considered an increasing problem. According to Balkan Insight, in 2014 an estimated 20,000 Kosovars illegally crossed the Serbian-Hungarian border to reach the EU.
Kosovo’s President Atifete Jahjaga said that the migrants, thought to be trying to escape unemployment and poverty in Kosovo, are preyed upon by "criminal networks [that] use this dissatisfaction to profit from our citizens".