75 arrested for smuggling people into EU in Iraqi-run network

Police had arrested 75 people in joint investigations in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and Britain.

75 arrested for smuggling people into EU in Iraqi-run network
Police across Europe have broken up an Iraqi-run network that smuggled illegal immigrants into the continent for fees of up to 12,000 euros ($18,630) per person, European officials said on Monday.

"This was one of the largest coordinated actions against people smugglers ever, involving more than 1,300 police officers," Europol and Eurojust, the continent's Hague-based police and prosecution agencies, said in a joint statement.

They said police had arrested 75 people in joint investigations in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and Britain.

"All suspects are said to be involved in the clandestine smuggling of a large number of illegal immigrants into and within the European Union," Europol and Eurojust said.

Codenamed "Operation Baghdad" as it targeted a network mainly involving Iraqi nationals, Eurojust coordinated the investigation at the request of French magistrates and set up a centre in Paris to liaise between involved countries.

The network is accused of transporting illegal immigrants from Afghanistan, China, Turkey and Bangladesh to EU member states. One of the main organisers in France is believed to have smuggled in around 280 people in a six-month period.

The migrants paid 10,000 to 12,000 euros, often by wire transfer, and travelled in cramped conditions in camper vans, coaches, boat or even plane from Iraq via Turkey to Europe, Europol and Eurojust said.

Reuters
Last Mod: 24 Haziran 2008, 11:47
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