Major Europol Raid Dismantled Smuggling Ring

Calais “Jungle” migrant camp Photo: VOA - Nicolas Pinault/

After an 18-month joint investigation under Europol, led to arrest of five high value targets from one of the largest migrants smuggling networks operating across the English Channel. French and Belgian judicial orders executed in Germany resulted in 19 arrests and 28 locations raided – The Guardian reports.

Following a year-long investigation with 600 police officers participated in Operation Task Force Wave, which resulted in the arrest of five key organizers and the head of an Iraqi Kurdish gang in Germany. It was one the biggest and busiest people-smuggling gangs in Calais. The smuggling operation was planned in Germany. Altogether 19 members taken into custody by German, French, and Belgian police.

Less than two months have passed since five people drowned in a resort near Calais, while trying to cross the Channel, due to extremely cold temperatures.

The investigation’s details also shed light on the success of people smuggling around Calais, where nearly 30,000 men, women, and children crossed the Channel last year despite the possibility of dying.

“When used legally, such boats would not be suitable nor safe for the transportation of more than 10 individuals. However, on average, smugglers put around 50 migrants in one of these boats. In total, the investigators have gathered evidence linking at least 55 departures that were facilitated solely by this smuggling network.”

The suspects collected between €1,000 and €3,000 per migrant for a place, said Europol to The Guardian.

Well Equipped Smuggler Ring

Inexpensive canoes were brought into Germany from China via a convoluted scheme that involved gang surveillance and rest stops in Belgium, where the smugglers would keep the boats until they were instructed to proceed to Calais.

After raids on 28 different locations in Germany, 12 boats, 179 life vests, 81 child-specific flotation devices, 11 outboard motors, 10 engines, nearly 60 electronic devices, and several firearms were seized.

The suspects are being held under Belgian and French court orders; they were all based in Germany.

According to the report, the operations were intricate, involving middlemen who would enlist individuals wishing to flee, keep in touch with low-level offenders, manage logistics, and handle payments while the gang leaders are frequently away.
In our earlier analysis, we discussed the cruel circumstances the Tory government’s pledge to drastically cut immigration.

The UK and the EU are about to sign a deal within a few days to share real-time data on migration in a further sign of thawing post-Brexit relations.

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