Judicial and law enforcement authorities from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany and the UK, supported by Europol and Eurojust, took action on November 24 against a Europe-wide organised crime group, composed primarily of Czech and Albanian nationals, suspected of arranging for mainly Albanian nationals to be brought into the European Union in breach of immigration law.
The organised crime group is also suspected of money laundering, accordig to a joint statement by Europol and Eurojust.
More than 200 police and law enforcement officers were involved and there were eight arrests. Six European Arrest Warrants were carried out. There were 10 house searches and 24 witnesses or suspects were questioned.
The crime group, operating since late 2013, transported irregular migrants to the UK via two routes: either from Turkey or Greece to Belgium and then on to the UK in vehicles driven by Czech and Slovak drivers, or from Bulgaria or Serbia to the Czech Republic, and then via Germany to the UK via ferry or train. More than 100 irregular migrants were brought into the European Union over this period.
Europol supported the action day by providing dedicated analysts to the operation and the deployment of its mobile office in the UK. Information gathered during the operation was analysed and exchanged in real time and immediately cross-matched. A coordination centre was held at Eurojust, with support from Eurojust’s Case Analysis Unit.
A joint investigation team (JIT) was established between the involved member states, with the participation of Europol and Eurojust.
Eurojust provided partial funding for the JIT, which enabled several meetings to take place between the JIT members in the countries involved.
Europol provided support to the investigation from its early stages, by delivering extensive analytical reports to the investigators, and hosting four operational meetings at its headquarters in The Hague.