The Hague, 8 July 2022
With the support of Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC), a criminal syndicate smuggling Vietnamese people into and across Europe has been dismantled as a result of parallel investigations carried out in five EU Member States.
Between 20 to 22 June, a series of coordinated raids were carried out in the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Belgium, with international activity coordinated by Europol and Eurojust. A total of nine individuals believed to belong to this gang were arrested, and nine properties searched. Several motor vehicles and cash amounting to several hundred thousand Czech crowns were seized.
The parallel investigations all targeted the same criminal group organising the smuggling of illegal migrants from Vietnam at least since March 2021. The migrants would arrive by plane to Europe under a work visa delivered for one specific country. Once in Europe, the victims were smuggled across Europe to reach their final destination, usually France or the United Kingdom.
The suspects allegedly smuggled their victims in their own vehicles, and in some cases used inflatable motorboats to reach the final stage of the journey, endangering the victims’ life.
Europol prioritised the case from an early stage and assigned dedicated officers to support the national investigations.
Its European Migrant Smuggling Centre organised three operational meetings to bring together the national investigators to establish a joint strategy, provided actionable intelligence and analytical support and facilitated the exchange of operational information needed to prepare for the final phase of the action.
During the coordinated action day, Europol’s EMSC facilitated the extensive exchange of information between all the parties involved and cross-checked the evidence in real time. Two Europol officers were deployed to Belgium to assist with the forensic data extraction.
Eurojust provided financial support and assisted the authorities in setting up a joint investigation team. In addition, the Agency organised three coordination meetings and a coordination centre during the action.
The following authorities took part in this investigation:
- Czech Republic: National Organized Crime Agency, District Public Prosecutor´s Office for Prague 3.
- Germany: Public Prosecutor´s Office Berlin, Joint investigation group of the Berlin State Criminal Police Office and German Federal Police.
- Hungary: National Bureau of Investigation, Metropolitan Chief Prosecution Office.
- Belgium: Federaal Parket, Federale Gerechtelijke Politie.
Source – Europol