Europol: Police Dismantles Afghan Smuggling Network in Germany & Romania

With the support of Europol and Eurojust, the German Federal Police and the Romanian Police have dismantled an organized criminal network that was involved in migrant smuggling of mainly Afghan nationals. According to a press release issued today, October 6, by Europol, during this action, the police searched 19 locations, 14 of them in Timisoara, four in Timis county, and one in Bucharest, reports. On the action day that took place on October 5, the police officers identified and immediately arrested 27 suspects, of which 16 were Afghan, one Iranian, and four Romanian nationals.

In addition, during the same action, the police confiscated a considerable amount of cash, 83 mobile phones, other electronic devices as well as ten morphine vials. Based on the same press release, it has been revealed that such illegal activities had been operating since May of last year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and increased controls. “The investigative activities suggest that the network had been operating in the Romanian counties Timis and Arad since May 2020.

The criminal network, composed mainly of Afghan nationals, was smuggling Afghan migrants recruited from refugee camps and other places where asylum seekers gather,” Europol’s statement reads. The suspects are believed to have smuggled around 200 migrants from Romania to other Western European countries, mainly to Germany and France, through facilitating illegal transport and accommodation of migrants at transit points. In order to get such services and be able to reach one of the two countries, migrants were paying between EUR1,000 and EUR2,000 just to be carried in the back of large lorries that were highly dangerous.

It is believed that during several days of transport, the migrants were hidden behind pallets, tree trunks, and other goods, enduring inhuman conditions without any safety measures in case of emergencies. German investigators from Rosenheim and Munich have also detected fifty other similar cases.

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Based on the findings of the investigations, the truck drivers were not aware that there were people in the back of their trucks. When the truck drivers took their sleep breaks in Romania, the smugglers untied the ropes covering the doors of the trailers to make an opening and got out of the vehicle.

From there, the migrants entered the loading area without being noticed by anyone, and once they reached Germany, they jumped off the truck when the drivers were taking breaks or unloading the cargo. Throughout this action, Europol helped in exchanging information and provided technical support and coordination. Moreover, on the action day, Europol sent an analyst to Romania to enable real-time information exchange.

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