European crime agency cracks people-smuggling ring

Migrants entered Austria and Germany

Nine people were arrested in the operation to fight human smuggling. Photo: Eurojust

The EU’s crime agency has dismantled a people-smuggling gang that hid migrants in modified vehicles and drove them to Austria and Germany.

Eurojust joined forces with authorities in Moldova and Romania, in which the group was operating.

Nine people have been arrested and raids were carried out on 66 properties in Moldova.

“It is suspected that a cross-border organised crime group set up in the Republic of Moldova had been illegally transferring migrants, mainly of Asian origin, to Austria and Germany via the Republic of Moldova and Romania since the summer of 2021,” Eurojust said.

“The group was organised in clusters, part of which was assigned to Turkey, where its members identified and recruited most of the migrants destined for western Europe.

“After being provided with transport to the Republic of Moldova, the migrants were brought into the country by other members of the gang, who subsequently ensured their fraudulent border crossing into Romanian territory and finally into Austria or Germany.”

Migrants were transported in small groups of six to 10 people in modified vans with hidden compartments specially arranged for their concealment.

“The criminal group often used additional vehicles as forerunners, to prevent the transports from being discovered,” Eurojust said.

“The price paid by migrants for the trafficking activity varied between €5,000 [$5,427] and €8,000 per person, depending on the distance and the nature of the transport offered.”

Proceeds from the gang’s operation were invested in luxury items, cars and property.

Updated: April 20, 2022, 7:01 PM