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:

World Wrap

Reuters Showcase

Indian Healthcare

Indian Healthcare

Exclusive - Payment delays dent India's flagship health, AIDS programmes  Full Article 

India-Pakistan Ties

India-Pakistan Ties

Indian, Pakistani foreign secretaries to meet in Islamabad.  Full Article 

Food Security

Food Security

India will not cut multi-billion dollar food handout programme - PM   Full Article 

Ola's Expansion Drive

Ola's Expansion Drive

Taxi group Ola steps up expansion drive  Full Article 

Controversial Film

Controversial Film

Film on 2012 Delhi gang rape stokes debate on Indian male mindset  Full Article 

Sahara Saga

Sahara Saga

Sahara's Grosvenor House hotel in London put up for sale   Full Article 

Beef Trade

Beef Trade

Maharashtra clamps down on beef trade through new act  Full Article 

Environment Concerns

Environment Concerns

Deforestation could shift monsoons, leaving India high and dry.  Full Article 

 'Smart Cities'

'Smart Cities'

India's 'smart cities' would be stupid without disaster strategy  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

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