Europol arrests 39 people for cracking down on immigrant smuggling gangs


Hague — Police in five European countries have arrested 39 people in a large cross-border operation targeting Iraqi Kurdish gangs who smuggled migrants across channels to the UK, EU law enforcement agencies Europol said on Wednesday.

Europol said the network could have smuggled 10,000 illegal immigrants into the UK over the past year and a half and benefited as much as € 15 million from their criminal activity.

“This is the most important operation to date for smuggling operations across the English Channel, especially with this small boat phenomenon,” Europol’s Deputy Managing Director Jean-Philippe Lecouffe said at a news conference.

Police officials said the gang was one of the most active criminal networks smuggling people from France to the United Kingdom on small boats.

British, French, Belgian, German and Dutch police were involved in the operation.

A 26-year-old Iranian Kurdish man, one of the leading suspects, was arrested in the United Kingdom along with five others. Germany arrested 18 people, and French and Dutch police arrested 9 and 6 suspects, respectively.

Police also seized more than 1,200 life jackets, about 150 rubber boats, about 50 engines, and tens of thousands of euros of cash, firearms and drugs, Europol said.

Asked about the possible impact of the crackdown, Matt Rivers of the National Crime Agency said, “Given the number of boats seized yesterday, the number of intersections is expected to decline in the near future.” rice field.

Official figures show that more than 28,500 people have arrived in the UK after a cross-channel trip on a small boat last year, and the British government is under strong pressure to stop the flow.

The government wants to start sending some of the illegal immigrants to Rwanda, but the plan has been widely criticized both internally and internationally and hampered by legal issues.