With the support of Europol, 18 persons were arrested yesterday in Greece for smuggling and abusing irregular migrants. 20 victims, men and women from the Dominican Republic, were found and their ordeal was brought to an end.
The operation was led by the Organized Crime and Human Trafficking Unit of the Hellenic National Police (HNP), supported by Europol and in cooperation with the Spanish Central Unit against Illegal Immigration Networks and Forgery (UCRIF), as well as the US Authorities (DHS/ICE).
The organised criminal group (OCG) recruited individuals from the Dominican Republic to be smuggled into Spain via Turkey and Greece. The criminals took advantage of the visa regulations in Turkey to enter the country. Upon arrival, the migrants’ travel documents were taken away by the OCG members. They were then smuggled into Greece and placed in safe houses. If the migrants were not able to pay for their travel or accommodation, they were forced into prostitution and labour exploitation. Finally, the criminal network facilitated their travel to Spain, which was the final destination country. The migrants were charged approximately 5,000 to 6,000 EUR per person for the whole trip.
15 of the arrested persons are from the Dominican Republic with one each coming from Albania, Cuba and Greece. During the operation, 12 house searches were performed. 77 mobile phones, 25 SIM cards, 12 computers, 2 hard disks, 11 forged travel documents and a large amount of electronic money transfer invoices, air-tickets and boarding passes were also seized.
On the action day, Europol deployed a mobile office to Athens to support the operation with on-the-spot intelligence analysis. Throughout the investigation, Europol also facilitated the exchange of intelligence, hosted and participated in operational meetings, and provided tailored analytical support to the investigators.