An organized crime group operating in five countries and illegally transfering foreign nationals from Pakistan and Afghanistan to European Union countries has been unearthed.
PKonweb Report— A large-scale operation is under way in Bulgaria, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, to neutralize an organized crime group operating on the territory of these five countries and illegal transfer of foreign nationals from Pakistan and Afghanistan to European Union countries, report Sofia News Agency.
Between Bulgaria, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was set up in March 2017 with the participation of Eurojust and Europol, reported Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office.
Judicial authorities in the five countries coordinated action in their own countries with the support of Eurojust and Europol. Around 200 officers took part in raids targeting the gang suspected of smuggling people from Afghanistan and Pakistan to the UK, report Sky News.
In the UK, 22 people were arrested in simultaneous early morning raids at a number of addresses in London, Birmingham and Gateshead.
The illegal trade is reportedly worth many millions of pounds to the traffickers, who charge between £7,000 and £10,000 for each illegal immigrant they smuggle into the UK.
The organized human trafficking group transported illegal migrants with vehicles that had built-in special secret storage place for the transported people in order not to be identified when carrying out checks by border authorities. In the JIT countries, evidence has also been collected about the commission of money laundering crime by the organized criminal group.
The investigation against this group began in 2016 in the UK and the Netherlands, which found that the group’s activities also took place on the territory of three other EU countries. In Bulgaria, the investigation against the group began in early March 2017 by the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office.
On the territory of Bulgaria, under the direction of the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office, a procedure is being carried out on the territory of Sofia, Lovech and Vratsa. So far, 24 searches have been carried out, 17 of which with prior authorization by the Specialized Criminal Court and 7 under urgent conditions.
To date, a total of 42 people have been detained.
7 people were also detained in Bulgaria in execution of European arrest warrants issued at the request of Belgium and France. 13 people are detained in Belgium, with more arrests likely in other countries say authorities.
UK Home Office Minister Brandon Lewis said the investigation highlighted the determination of authorities here and elsewhere in Europe to work together to go after those involved in this type of organized criminality.