Nine people were arrested
With the support of Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Center (EMSC), parallel investigations in five EU Member States have broken up a criminal syndicate smuggling Vietnamese people into and through Europe.
Between 20 and 22 June, a series of coordinated raids took place in the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Belgium, with international activity coordinated by Europol and Eurojust. A total of nine people believed to belong to this gang were arrested and nine properties were searched. Several motor vehicles and cash amounting to several hundred thousand Czech crowns were seized.
All the parallel investigations focused on the same criminal group, which organized the trafficking of illegal migrants from Vietnam since at least March 2021. Migrants arrived by plane in Europe with a work visa issued for a specific country. Once in Europe, the victims were smuggled through Europe to reach their final destination, usually France or the United Kingdom.
The suspects were said to have transported their victims in their own vehicles and in some cases used inflatable motorboats to reach the final leg of the journey, which endangered the lives of the victims.
Europol prioritized the case at an early stage and appointed special officers to support national investigations.
Its European Migrant Smuggling Center organized three operational meetings to bring together national investigators and establish a joint strategy, provide operational intelligence and analytical support and facilitate the exchange of operational information needed to prepare the final phase of the operation.
During the day of the coordinated action, Europol’s EMCDDA facilitated a broad exchange of information between all parties involved and cross-checked evidence in real time. Two Europol officers were seconded to Belgium to assist in the retrieval of forensic data.
Eurojust provided financial support and assisted the authorities in setting up a joint investigation team. In addition, the Agency organized three coordination meetings and a coordination center during the action.