The German Federal Police (Bundespolizei) and the Romanian Police (Poliția Română), supported by Europol and Eurojust, have dismantled an organized crime group involved in the migrant smuggling of predominantly Afghan nationals.
The action day on October 5 resulted in the arrest of 21 suspects following 19 location searches. Cash, mobile phones and other electronic equipment was seized along with 10 morphine vials.
The investigation suggests that the network had been operating in the Romanian counties Timiş 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. The suspects are believed to have smuggled about 200 migrants from Romania to countries in Western Europe, mainly France and Germany. The network facilitated the illegal transportation and accommodation at transit points. Migrants were paying between €1000 and €2000 for the dangerous trip in the back of large trailer trucks.
Hidden between goods such as tree trunks and pallets, the migrants endured low temperatures and inhuman conditions during several days of transport. German investigators from Rosenheim and Munich detected about 50 similar cases. According to the investigations, the truck drivers were not aware that they had people in the back of their trucks. While the drivers took their sleep breaks in Romania, the smugglers released the sealed ropes covering the doors of the trailers to make an opening. From there, the migrants were able to enter the loading area unnoticed. Once in Germany, they jumped off the truck when the drivers took breaks or unloaded the cargo.
Europol facilitated the exchange of information and provided operational coordination and analytical support. On the action day, Europol enabled a virtual command post to facilitate the real-time exchange of information. Europol also deployed an analyst to Romania to cross-check operational information against Europol’s databases to provide leads to investigators in the field.
Eurojust set up a joint investigation team between Germany, Romania and Europol to facilitate the judicial cooperation.