Ceurin Stupa, head of Europol’s Center for Combating Illegal Migration, said 660 illegal immigrants from the Middle East were taken to EU countries by a criminal group investigated by the services of several countries, including Poland. The turnover of this group is at least 7 million euros.
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At Friday’s conference at the headquarters of the border guards, the representative of Europol emphasized that criminal groups took advantage of the moment of increasing immigration pressure from Belarus to the European Union and hardened their practices. Law enforcement agencies have also intensified their actions against the crisis, not only at the national level, but also at the international level.
Stupa explained that in 2021, the Lithuanian services established a joint investigation unit in Vilnius, the purpose of which was to facilitate cooperation between the Baltic states, Poland, Finland and Germany. In February 2022, Europol established an Operations Working Group, which accelerated the exchange of information between these countries and provided analytical products to enhance the evidence of country-by-country investigations.
– Thanks to joint efforts, 11 key members of the criminal groups that formed the structures of smuggling migrants from the countries of the Middle East were selected. It was these fundamental people who played a major role in the criminal process in its various stages. It was these people who benefited the most from the practice, Stupa said.
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He noted that one of these people was arrested in Great Britain during the July 13 operations on the basis of a German arrest warrant. The remaining 10 were detained by Polish police and border guards.
The representative of Europol explained that the joint efforts of the agencies revealed how smugglers operate. Criminals organized the exit of immigrants from Iraq. The first migrants ended up in Minsk.
– Then local drivers hired by the criminals transported the migrants to Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and finally to the Federal Republic of Germany – Stupa explained.
He also noted that migrants are often transported in life-threatening conditions. They are transported in crowded vehicles and even in enclosed spaces for trucks. The goal of smugglers is to reduce costs and avoid detection of migrants by services.
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– Smugglers are people who act ruthlessly and are in no way interested in the health or life of the transported people. – stressed the representative of Europol.
Stupa explained that as part of the activities in question, the abandoned bodies were found by German services at the Polish-German border in October 2021.
– Probably, the ruthless smugglers left an exhausted person in the middle of nowhere to die, caring only about his profits, and these profits, of course, are colossal – he asserted.
The Europol representative said that transporting one person from Iraq to the European Union costs between 10 and 15,000 euros.
– Thus, it can easily be calculated that if, in the past year, the law enforcement agencies of the countries concerned recorded a total of 660 irregular migrants transported by this group, The estimated financial turnover is at least 7 million euros – indicated Stopa.
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