Europol: Human Traffickers Make 3 Billion Euro Profits Every Year

Syrian and Iraqi refugees arrive on the island of Lesbos in Greece (Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Ggia)

According to an estimate by Europol, the total global turnover of human trafficking is 3 billion euros annually. Every year this amount increases. This is according to the report “The trafficking of human beings financial business model” by Europol, the European Union’s multinational research and police cooperation agency.

According to reports, about 90 percent of migrants would use smugglers to organize their trip globally, only 10 percent of migrants organize the trip on their own.

Many smuggling gangs smuggle up to about hundreds of people per trip, making them huge money each time. In 2017, for example, the court in Belgium, convicted Marjan S., a top figure within a Ukrainian smuggling organization responsible for the transfer of 506 proven individuals. Probably this number is several times higher in real life. The judges ruled that the net profit was at least over 1.2 million.

A human trafficking gang is usually run by people in the country of origin as well as by people in the destination country. Often people smugglers work together with relatives or acquaintances who come from the same region. Justice and police also note that the key figures are not infrequently ex-migrants who are now legally residing here.

According to Europol, many of the traffickers combine their human trafficking with other criminal activities, such as drug and cigarette trafficking, forging passports and money laundering. This money laundering is usually done through real estate: the criminals buy houses and land in their country of origin with the money they earn from their criminal activities.

Everything happens illegally by definition although, according to Europol’s report, there are interfaces between the upper and underworld. For example, car mechanics have been arrested in Belgium who, in addition to their usual work, offered their services to people smugglers to convert small trucks to fit illegal immigrants. Another common example is night stores that are a cover and serve primarily as both a meeting place and a business to launder black money.

People smugglers often turn out to be vicious criminals, according to the annual report of Myria, Belgium’s Federal Migration Center. They would drug small children and babies with sleeping pills to keep them quiet or even dump crying babies in the woods to avoid being caught. When illegal, often underage, immigrants are unable to pay off their debt before traveling to Europe, they are routinely used as debt slaves. Upon arrival in Europe, they must work in crime, prostitution, construction or hospitality until they earn the money together for their illegal journey.


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