(MENAFN- Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) BRUSSELS, Oct 26 (KUNA) -- The EU police agency Europol announced Thursday the dismantling of a major migrant smuggling network operating across Europe.
Europol supported a joint Investigation team, consisting of investigators and judicial authorities from five different EU Member States; Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Netherlands, and UK, it said in a press statement.
Law enforcement authorities carried out 42 searches across Europe and arrested 26 individuals; 8 in Belgium, 7 in Bulgaria and 11 in the UK, it said.
The arrested individuals are suspected of being part of the network that was facilitating unlawful immigration from countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, into the European Union.
Authorities estimate that over 48 illegal journeys since June 2016 have already taken place, allowing around 400 migrants to gain illegal entry into Europe via this organized crime group.
The organized crime group is believed to have transported migrants in specially adapted vehicles, passing through various EU Member States, with the UK as final destination.
The leader of the ring was a wheelchair-bound disabled man from Afghanistan, who is based in the UK.
"This operation, the biggest 2017 operation from the European Migrant Smuggling Centre," Robert Crepinko, Head of the European Migrant Smuggling Centre at Europol, said.
The operation clearly shows that migrant smuggling is an international crime that calls for international cooperation in law enforcement, said Crepinko. (end) nk.ma
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