Syrians arrested in Eindhoven for human trafficking

Asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean sea (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Vito Manzari)Asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean sea (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Vito Manzari)

Two Syrian men have been arrested in Eindhoven on suspicion of large-scale human trafficking to the Netherlands. The marechaussee, a policing force working as a branch of the military, believe that the suspects smuggled hundreds of refugees into the country from Greece, Austria and Hungary.

The suspects are a 35 year old Syrian man, himself a refugee with a residency permit, and his 26 year old cousin, broadcaster NOS reports. They operated from Eindhoven. The marechaussee also arrested a female relative, but she was released again pending further investigation.

The investigation into these two men is led by the National Office of the Public Prosecutor and in cooperation with authorities in Hungary, Germany, Austria, Italy and Europol. The investigation has been going on for about a year.

The marechaussee believe that the smugglers follow the following route: It starts in Syria, where recruiters look for Syrian refugees to make the crossing to Europe by boat. They are taken to "assembly points" in Athens, Budapest, Vienna in Milan, where suspects are waiting for them. Once they have a group together who wants to travel to the Netherlands, they call the 35 year old arrested Syrian, the prime suspect.

Depending on the size of the group, the prime suspect sends a car or minivan to the assembly point to pick them up. These cars are often rental cars to avoid detection and driven by Dutch drivers. The drivers bring the refugees to the Netherlands, always dropping them off in different locations. Sometimes the refugees stay in the Netherlands, other times they move on to Sweden, Denmark and Northern Germany.

According to the Public Prosecutor, the prime suspect arranged dozens of such transports, lately almost on a daily basis. Hundreds of refugees were involved. So far as is known, all of them survived the journey. The Public Prosecutor believes that the man earned between 60 thousand and 120 thousand euros per year with this smuggling drade.