Big migrant trafficking operation

Sat, 1 Apr 2023 8:03 GMT
Police say they have dismantled a large gang of human traffickers that also had an extensive document forging operation.
Big migrant trafficking operation

Police say they have dismantled a large gang of human traffickers that also had an extensive document forging operation.

A total of 41 people were arrested in Athens, Thessaloniki and the regional unit of Ilia, in western Greece, police said. They face many charges, including arms and narcotics possession. Another 55 persons are wanted.

The gang was professionally organized to ensure maximum efficiency, police said. Among those who had specific roles, police said there was a leader and a deputy; 25 document forgers, not only of IDs and passports, but also Covid-19 tests, airline boarding passes and other documents; 28 in charge of transporting and/or escorting migrants; 7 who rented apartments or houses; 3 scouts in search of interested migrants; 15 managing earnings; and another 15 more loosely associated members entrusted with different roles are needs arose.

Police said the gang members moved money through the “Hawala” system, defined as an informal system to transmit currency without any actually moving.

The houses the gang used for migrants were advertised on social media.

The gang’s cell phone were registered to fake names and communication was by code, police said.

Migrants paid €4,000 for travel documents plus €4,000-€10,000 for transportation to countries such as Austria, Croatia, France, Bosnia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.

The usual transport route included a crossing on foot from Türkiye to Greece; transportation by car and truck to Athens, Thessaloniki and other places; a stay in Greece with the help of fake residency documents; transportation to the Albanian border; crossing the border either on foot or in vehicles; and from there to either Montenegro, then Bosnia or Serbia; and hence to EU countries.

Gang members provided detailed instructions on managing money, buying food and other necessities and avoiding various countries’ police.

A final payment ranging from €1,250 to €4,000 to complete the final leg to an EU country.

In Athens alone, police found 12 apartments used by the gang and 80 migrants waiting to be transported. They will be deported.

Police also found 21 shops used as part of the Hawala network and 5 document forging locations that used sophisticated equipment.

Police say the gang transported at least 2,322 migrants, who paid a minimum of €4,000 each, many paying much higher sums; they also forged upwards of 8,000 documents for which the migrants paid €500 each.

Police estimate the gang’s earnings at more than €9 million.


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