Law enforcement authorities worked together on 21 March to arrest 12 migrant smugglers operating in the Balkans. Slovenia, Kosovo*, the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and Europol arrested the individuals as part of a cross-border operation to dismantle an organised crime group based in the area.
The operation targeted the group as it was involved in smuggling migrants from Kosovo* to Slovenia, via the Balkan route. Operating the length of this particular route, the group used different modes of transport to cross borders and made use of safe houses and a network of contacts along the way.
Over the past year the group has smuggled 300 people, including minors, to Europe a month. The smugglers charged the migrants EUR 2 500-3 000 each and made EUR 900 000 every month through their illegal activities.
The Joint Action Day was seen as a success in the fight against migrant smuggling:
- 8 arrested in Kosovo* and 4 in Slovenia;
- 12 houses searched;
- 19 mobile devices confiscated;
- 4 guns with ammunition seized;
- forged passports found.
The Slovenian National Police and the District State Prosecutor’s Office in Koper led the operation, with cooperation and support from the Kosovan Police and the Prosecutor's Office in Mitrovica, EULEX Kosovo and Europol.
Europol organised operational meetings in Pristina and provided analytical and investigative support. Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) deployed an officer with a mobile office to Pristina to support Kosovan Police and EULEX Kosovo* with a Universal Forensic Extraction Device – a mobile forensic kit that can extract data from mobile phones.
* ( * UN Council resolution 1244)