Interpol Goes After Human Smugglers Fugitives, Seeks Public Help

In the midst of increasing illegal migration into Europe, Interpol has stepped up efforts to tackle human smuggling and is calling on people’s help to provide information to capture human smugglers on the run. 

human smugglingHuman Smuggling (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)“Concern that good summer weather and calm seas may spur the number of illegal migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean also prompted Interpol to reach out to the public,” Michael O'Connell, director of operational support and analysis for Interpol, told the Associated Press.

Ten suspected human smugglers are under the spotlight. One of them is Romanian Mariana Crucerescu, convicted of heading an organized crime group that facilitated the passage of individuals through Hungarian and Austrian border points, charging them up to € 3,000  (US$ 3,300) per person. 

Another suspect on the list is the Pakistan national Arshad Mohammad, accused of working with a criminal group in Slovakia to traffic migrants to Italy via Austria. Migrants were from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Full details and photos of all the suspects are available here.

O’Connell said that capturing human smugglers is tricky because the victims are often unable or unwilling to provide details. 

A joint Europol-Interpol Report on Migrant Smuggling Networks issued last month estimated that human smugglers facilitated the travel of 90 percent of migrants entering the European Union. In Europe, these migrants are vulnerable to labor or sexual exploitation as they need to repay their debt to smugglers. 

According to the report, more than 250 hotspots for migrant smuggling are identified within (170) and outside (80) the EU.

Last year, human smugglers made US$ 5 billion to 6 billion, which represented one of the main profit-generating activities for organized criminals in Europe, according to Europol. A persistent high demand along with low overall costs to run the operations make the illegal activity a highly profitable business. 

So far, 57 people have been arrested and located under Operation Infra (International Fugitive Round Up and Arrest) Hydra. The operation seeks to arrest 180 fugitives wanted by 31 countries.