Europol: 28 arrested for smuggling migrants via Bulgaria and Romania

Twenty-eight people were arrested following an investigation initiated by Romanian Border Police into a criminal organisation smuggled irregular migrants from Türkiye to Germany via Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Czech Republic, European police cooperation agency Europol said on May 26.

The Bulgarian General Directorate for Combating Organised Crime and the German Federal Police in Waidhaus were also involved in the operation.

During the action day, Germany deployed a prosecutor to Romania to advise on the collection of evidence, in view of their potential use in German judicial proceedings, while Bulgarian investigators and Europol analysts and two guest officers took also part in the activities in Romania, Europol said.

Twenty-nine locations were searched in Bucharest, Arges district, Buzau, Constanta and Brasov.

The Romanian Border Police initiated the investigation into this criminal network in 2022, following the arrests of several van drivers at the border with Bulgaria.

The investigation uncovered a criminal network that was composed of several suspects, clustered in two groups depending on their tasks.

One of the groups, composed mainly of Romanian nationals, was responsible for the transportation, with the other in charge of recruitment of migrants who could to be smuggled.

The suspects smuggled the migrants via land across specific Border Crossing Points (BCPs) at the Bulgarian-Romanian border such as Ostrov BCP, Giurgiu BCP and Bechet BCP. They then held them in locations near the Romanian city of Timisoara for a day or two, before further transporting them to Germany.

The suspects smuggled the irregular migrants mostly in vans and trucks.

This modus operandi, largely used by criminal networks active across the so-called Balkan route, has proven highly dangerous for the life and health of migrants, Europol said. In several recent incidents, adults and children were found dead due to the lack of space and oxygen in the compartments used to conceal them during transportation. 

(Archive photo: Bulgarian Interior Ministry press centre)

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