Since 2015, the Europol Monitoring Team (EPMT) reports provide a regular update on migratory movements, trends and modi operandi in the migrant smuggling and human trafficking crime areas.
In 2019, Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) witnessed a continued – and in some areas increased – demand for facilitation services, yet overall migration flow towards the European Union (EU) continued to decrease.
- Focus on labour exploitation in the agricultural sector – the particular vulnerability of the sector is related to the large number of workers employed on a non-regular or seasonal basis.
- Development of digital migrant smuggling: detection of the so-called ‘convoy of hope’ and smuggling services organised via internet.
Life-endangering methods still prevalent
Migrant smugglers and human traffickers have little regard to human life, constantly putting their victims in danger. Migrant smugglers transport irregular migrants in overloaded cars, vans and lorries while trying to hide the highest possible number of them and maximise their profits. Concealed in trunks, hidden, built-in or even engine compartments, irregular migrants are transported for several hours without stopping to avoid apprehension.
In the last two weeks of August 2019 alone, eight irregular migrants died and 33 were injured in three incidents in Croatia, Greece and North Macedonia. Explicitly violent behaviour, as occurred in stabbings among criminal groups and in robberies of migrants, led to additional injuries and fatalities.
“Increased violence, use of fraudulent documents and new innovative ways of migrant smuggling – what we came to call ‘digital smuggling’ – are an unprecedented challenge for EU law enforcement agencies,” said Robert Crepinko, Head of EMSC.
EMSC enhances the level of specialist support helping law enforcement across the EU to fight this illegal activity more effectively. The newly established Joint Liaison Task Force (JLT) on Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Human Beings strengthens the network of participating liaison officers and triggers targeted operational activities. The EMSC has also dedicated a team as a response to the increase of the number of fraudulent document detections on secondary movements inside the EU-Schengen area.