Eurojust, the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, has detained 11 members of a criminal network smuggling illegal immigrants by air into Belgium, Greece, and Sweden, the agency said in a statement.
According to the agency, the network mainly transported Iraqi migrants with forged or stolen documents from Greece to Brussels International Airport and Charleroi Airport. From there, they were transported to other EU countries or Norway by car or also by plane, using further false documents.
The migrants were charged at least €5,000 to €6,000 per person for each of these trips.
The investigation into the smuggling network began in April 2022 after a smuggler was caught at Charleroi Airport escorting three illegal migrants.
Investigations identified an organized criminal group of Syrian and Egyptian nationals who were facilitating the passage of two to four illegal migrants at a time from Greece to Belgium and onwards.
The migrants had previously entered Greece through illegal routes, the statement added.
Europol, the European Union’s police cooperation organization based in The Hague, confirmed on Nov. 13 that 16 searches were carried out in Belgium and Greece, two travel agencies in Athens were raided, telephones and other electronic devices were seized, several forged Romanian and Bulgarian passports were seized, and nearly €200,000 in cash was confiscated.
Eight members of the criminal group were arrested in Belgium, two in Greece, and one in Sweden.