European police arrest 103 in biggest raid on migrant smugglers

BUDAPEST Wed Jan 30, 2013 11:45pm IST

Related Topics

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - European police on Tuesday simultaneously arrested more than 100 people in 10 countries in what they called the biggest raid on a migrant smuggling ring in the history of the European Union.

The traffickers, based in Kosovo with links to the Turkish underworld, specialised in bringing migrants from the Middle East, especially Libya, Syria and Iraq, to Europe for thousands of euros per head, police told a news conference in Hungary on Wednesday.

Migrants, including children, were crammed into tight spaces on tourist buses, cargo trucks or ships, and sometimes had to hike through winter forests to cross borders, according to presentations by police chiefs from various countries.

Sometimes, migrants died en route, including one incident when 16 drowned in the river Tisza near the Hungarian-Serbian border in 2009, police said.

On Tuesday more than 1,200 police officers raided 117 locations at the same time and made 103 arrests, after more than a dozen countries cooperated for a year and a half to track down the traffickers, police said.

"We really significantly disrupted this main organisation," said Nicholas Dove, the head of the organised crime unit of the European Union's Rule of Law Mission to Kosovo.

The migrants were taken on a route through Turkey, he said.

"This is not a cash on delivery business; this is a cash up front business," Dove said. "Some people who were let down ended up in places where they didn't intend to be."

"Then there's the knock-on effect of people being illegally in countries in Western Europe with no status there. How do they exist? They get involved in street crime. This is hugely damaging to human beings but also society and the economy."

Officials said that about 20 members of the organisation remained unknown to them, and pledged to track them down too.

Police said they had intelligence that might lead them to other trafficking rings, adding that European cooperation against this type of crime was getting more efficient.

(Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Jason Webb)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Boat Tragedy

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

Pro-Russia separatists take armoured vehicles, humiliating Kiev forces.  Full Article 

Official Count

Official Count

Washington state mudslide death toll rises to 39.  Full Article 

Not Funny

Not Funny

North Korean embassy complains to UK after salon mocks leader's hair.  Full Article 

Monitoring Community

Monitoring Community

New York City police disbands unit that watched Muslim communities .  Full Article 

Nuclear Assurance

Nuclear Assurance

Modi says committed to no first use of nuclear weapons.  Full Article 

Sanctions On Iran

Sanctions On Iran

Rouhani says Iran sanctions will unravel in months.  Full Article 

Holy Week

Holy Week

The Christian faithful celebrate Holy Week, the week which leads into Easter Sunday.  Slideshow 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage