Czech authorities detained 14 individuals on Tuesday suspected of facilitating large-scale illegal migration from Turkey to Czechia and the rest of the European Union.
The National Central Office against Organized Crime (NCB) in Czechia has been monitoring the group’s activities since 2021 under the code name “HATIN,” as they built up evidence against the men who now face up to 16 years in prison.
It is estimated the group was responsible for orchestrating the illegal immigration into Czechia of hundreds of migrants over the last few years and received more than €1 million in revenue from their smuggling operation.
“One Czech citizen and 13 foreigners helped at least a thousand migrants cross the border illegally,” Jaroslav Ibehej, an NCB spokesman, told ČTK.
Officers searched properties related to the suspects and seized around €38,000 in cash and two vehicles suspected of being used to smuggle migrants into the country.
The sting during which the suspects were arrested was undertaken in collaboration with police officers from across the country, including the Rapid Deployment Unit and the intervention unit of the Regional Directorate of the Police of the Hradec Králové region.
The criminal proceedings will be supervised by the Regional State Prosecutor’s Office in Hradec Králové.
The suspects remain in custody, and the investigation is ongoing.
The vast majority of migrants who enter Czechia consider the nation to be a transit country and pass through to Western and Northern Europe.
The Czech government imposed border controls on its 252-kilometer border with Slovakia last year amid a rise in illegal immigration into the country, but these rules were relaxed back in February.