Organised crime group smuggling migrants dismantled in Greece
Norway Today (Europol): An organised crime group involved in smuggling migrants from Greece to other European Union countries is dismantled in Athens, Greece. The operation is jointly carried out by Attika Aliens Division, Europol and the UK’s National Crime Agency, following several months of investigations.
In this large operation in Athens at the end of May, a total of 12 individuals are arrested, of which seven are members of the organised crime group.
Four of those arrested are migrants that were about to be smuggled. In addition, one Afghan national is arrested for carrying a false identity card. Seven members of the organised crime group were already arrested.
The members of the network received up to € 16,000 per person that are illegally transported, with the money transferred via the Hawala informal money transfer system.
Balkan Route to Germany
Regarding the modus operandi, the organised crime group consists of two sub-teams. Both sub-teams are involved in smuggling migrants mainly from Greece, either by land using the “Balkan route”, or by air.
In particular, for facilitation through the Balkan route, the migrants crosses the border from Greece to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. From there, other members of the group picks up the migrants and organises further transport to the destination countries.
Based on the investigation, for each leg of the journey, the network receives between € 1000 and € 2000 per person, with main destinations being Austria, Germany and, in some cases, the Netherlands. In addition, one of the teams illegally transports migrants by air, mainly via Athens International Airport but also the national airports of Heraklion and Mytilene.
Migrants are provided either with false documents or other people’s genuine passports. The prices the migrants were charged depends on their desired country of destination.
For EU countries, the price varies from € 4,000 up to € 6,000, except for the UK where the price varies from € 8,000 up to € 10,000. A facilitated trip to Canada was € 16,000 per person.
According to the investigation, the network are involved in 26 facilitation cases – 11 of them using air transport, 14 by land and one by sea.
Searches took place in houses and shops in central Athens, where the following were confiscated (among others):
- 17 passports
- 8 identity cards
- 2 Afghan travel documents
- 2 asylum request documents
- 3 boarding passes
- € 3,400 in cash
- Certificate for residence permit request
- 24 mobile phones
- German visas
- 3 laptop computers.
© Europol / Norway Today