In the second half of June 2011, arrests were made in a coordinated operation involving France, Portugal, UK, Eurojust and Europol. The operation targeted a Chinese network involved in the facilitation of illegal migration into the UK.
On 4 July a Romanian national was arrested in the UK in connection with organising transport between mainland Europe and the UK.
The French Central Office for the Repression of Illegal Immigration and Employment of Foreigners without Residence Permits (OCRIEST) investigated the existence of a Chinese network facilitating illegal migration from France to the UK. The inquiry was conducted by an investigating judge in Paris
The investigation confirmed the existence of a well organised criminal network operating mainly in the Paris region, with connections to Portugal and the UK. In Portugal investigators of Immigration and Border police (SEF) established that the Chinese suspects were able to arrange fraudulently obtained documents (such as work permits, residence permits) for irregular migrants, as well as counterfeit visas, and identity and travel documents.
The main suspects also provided legal assistance and accommodation in safe houses. The investigation conducted by the United Kingdom Borders Agency (UKBA) in conjunction with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) focused mainly on the suspects involved in organising transport across the English Channel.
The main targets' criminal activities were supported by criminals acting from the People’s Republic of China, providing them with customers, who were ready to pay up to €23.000 to reach Western Europe. In Europe the customers were provided with documents, often using these to travel onwards to the UK.
During the common action day on 14 June 12 arrests were made, 6 in France and 6 in Portugal. Simultaneous house searches were conducted in France and Portugal, resulting in the seizure of documents, money, bank statements, mobile phones and other supporting evidence. In the UK 1 suspect was arrested on 17 June. On 28 June 4 additional arrests were made in France and on 4 July 2011 a Romanian national was arrested in the UK in connection with organising transport between mainland Europe and the UK.
A coordination centre set up at Europol provided all specialist communication tools necessary for real-time support and coordination. Analysts provided analysis of the emerging data. Representatives of all investigative authorities involved were present. This coordination centre was supported by Eurojust, providing valuable support at a judicial level.
For more information:
EUROJUST - Mr Joannes THUY, Press Officer & Spokesperson
Tel +31 70 412 5508
EUROPOL - Mr Soren Kragh Pedersen, Chief of Media & PR
Tel +31 70 302 5001