The Romanian Border Police, with the support of Europol, has arrested a total of 28 people who were involved in criminal organisations that smuggled immigrants into the Schengen Area through Bulgaria and Romania
The Bulgarian General Directorate Combating Organised Crime and the German Federal Police in Waidhaus were also involved in this operation, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
According to a recent Europol statement, during the day of the action, the police also checked 29 locations in Bucharest, the district of Arges, Buzau, Konstanz and Brasov.
Last year, the Romanian Border Police launched an investigation into this criminal network after arresting several van drivers on the border with Bulgaria. As a result, the police discovered a criminal network consisting of several suspects, grouped into two groups.
One of the groups was mainly composed of Romanian citizens who were responsible for the transport. As for the second group, it dealt with the recruitment of immigrants who could be smuggled.
The organisation in question smuggled irregular immigrants from Turkey to Germany through Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
The suspects smuggled migrants overland from specific border crossing points (BCPs) on the Bulgarian-Romanian border such as Ostrov BCP, Giurgiu BCP and Bechet BCP. The migrants were then held at sites near the Romanian city of Timisoara for a day or two before being transported 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,” the statement reads.
According to Europol, recent incidents have ended fatally as many children and adults have been found dead due to lack of space and oxygen in the compartments used to hide them during transport.
In this regard, Europol has shown analytical support and simultaneously offered operational coordination for the authorities in the Member States. During the day of this recent operation, the same has also sent an analyst to Romania to enable the collection of evidence and two Europol officers were also deployed in the area supporting the Romanian authorities.