Twelve arrested in major people smuggling bust
Twelve suspects were arrested in a Europol dismantling of a people smuggling ring in cooperation with the Dutch, Belgian, French and English authorities. According to Europol, the suspects smuggled a large number of migrants in life-threatening conditions through the English Channel.
The suspects were arrested in a two-day long operation on Monday and Tuesday. Seven suspects were arrested in France, two in the Netherlands and three in the UK.
According to Europol, this organized crime group smuggled people with small boats from the north coast of France to the United Kingdom. Members of the smuggling network purchased inflatable boats and engines in Germany and the Netherlands, took these to the departure points, and taught migrants how to operate the boats to cross the Channel. This while charging an average of 3 thousand euros per person for the crossing.
"This transportation in overloaded boats, and often in very difficult weather conditions on one of the busiest commercial shipping lanes in the world, endangered both the lives of the migrants and the law enforcement officers involved in rescue operations at sea," Europol said.
In addition to the arrests, the authorities also seized 12 vehicles, 10 rubber boats and engines, 158 life jackets, a caravan, a boat trailer, jewelry, about 48 thousand euros in cash, documents, and mobile devices.