Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre has arrested three individuals suspected of smuggling irregular migrants into Germany.
The arrests of three individuals in Romania, Serbia and the United Kingdom, who were suspected of smuggling irregular migrants into Germany on a large scale, followed several months of joint operational work between authorities in the countries involved, co-ordinated by Europol. Police forces took part in a synchronised covert strike on 8 May, which resulted in the successful arrests of the three suspects.
The arrests also coincided with the conclusion of a parallel investigation into the facilitators of the large-scale migrant smuggling operation in the Western-Balkan region, which resulted in the arrests of five additional suspects in Serbia.
How did Europol participate in the investigation?
Co-operation between the law enforcement authorities in all of the countries involved was vital to the success of the investigation, which was initiated by the Munich regional office of the German Bundespolizei. The suspected traffickers used multiple different identities, and frequently moved across borders to evade capture, requiring a co-ordinated response.
Europol facilitated the timely exchange of intelligence across borders, so that one of the suspects arrested in Serbia was identified using Romanian forensic data and taken into custody on a German arrest warrant, while a UK suspect was arrested while attempting to use a false identity to cross the border from France.
What are the suspects accused of?
The facilitators were arrested on suspicion of smuggling irregular migrants into Germany concealed in lorries, a form of people-smuggling which has become increasingly common in recent years, partly thanks to an overall increase in irregular migration from Africa and the Middle East into Europe.
According to Europol’s figures, some 23 incidents involving attempts to smuggle irregular migrants through border crossing points concealed in lorries have been reported already this year, involving more than 400 smuggled people. Europol warns of the potential life-endangering impact that this form of migration can have, and in response has increased its efforts in this area.