Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Dismantling Pakistani-led migrant smuggling network in Romania, Italy and Austria

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Diplomat Magazine
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DIPLOMAT MAGAZINE “For diplomats, by diplomats” Reaching out the world from the European Union First diplomatic publication based in The Netherlands. Founded by members of the diplomatic corps on June 19th, 2013. "Diplomat Magazine is inspiring diplomats, civil servants and academics to contribute to a free flow of ideas through an extremely rich diplomatic life, full of exclusive events and cultural exchanges, as well as by exposing profound ideas and political debates in our printed and online editions." Dr. Mayelinne De Lara, Publisher

Authorities in Romania, Italy and Austria have dismantled a criminal network that abused work visas to smuggle over 500 Pakistani, Bengali and Egyptian migrants to various EU Member States. In total, 12 suspects have been formally identified and will be charged during an action day with the active support by Eurojust and Europol. Eurojust also assisted in setting up and financing a joint investigation team (JIT) into the case.

The migrant smuggling network advertised its services online, but members of the organised crime group (OCG) based in Pakistan also recruited migrants locally. The criminal network started its activities in January 2021 and operated until recently. In the EU, the OCG operated from Romania, Italy and Austria and is estimated to have earned at least EUR 1 million with their illegal activities.

The smugglers obtained Romanian work visas for the migrants through a series of linked companies set up for this purpose, and placed them in Bucharest and Brasov. From there they were transported to the border area near Timisoara, from where they were further trafficked to Italy, Austria and Germany. These onward journeys were either by guided passage on foot across the border or in lorries.

Investigations were launched in Romania in August of last year and identified 15 suspects and 5 enterprises set up for the smuggling activities. During the action day, a total of 29 places have been searched and an estimated value of EUR 146,000 in cash was seized.

Eurojust not only assisted in setting up the JIT between Romania, Italy and Europol, but also provided additional cross-border judicial support during the action. Europol provided elaborate analytical support and operational cooperation and facilitated the exchange of information.

The operation on the ground was carried out at the request of and by the following authorities:

Romania: Directorate for Investigation of Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) – Brasov Territorial Structure; Brasov Bureau for Combatting Organised Crime

Austria: Public Prosecution Office Salzburg; State Criminal Police Office Salzburg

Italy: Public Prosecution Office of Udine; Carabinieri, Special Operational Group of Udine Anti-Crime Unit

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