Experts meet at Europol to tackle migrant smuggling organised crime through financial investigations

13 September 2016
Press Release
Press Release/News

On 8 and 9 September 2016, Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre, in co-operation with the Slovakian EU Council Presidency, organised an expert meeting in The Hague on Migrant Smuggling and Financial Investigations. Approximately 80 experts from migrant smuggling investigation authorities, financial intelligence units and asset recovery offices from EU Member States, Third Parties and the private sector were invited to attend this Presidency event. The main aim of the meeting was to facilitate co-operation between investigation and financial intelligence units both at national and international level.

Money and the profit gained from illegal transport of migrants is the driving force of this illegal business. The migration crisis has created an important market for criminals to benefit from smuggling of migrants. Europol estimates that this crime generates on a yearly benefit EUR 5-6 billion worth of profits for organised crime groups.

Although a significant percentage of the money flow occurs either in cash or via underground banking, transaction-based legal money businesses are also widely used by criminal enterprises. Therefore the intelligence gathered from third parties and the private sector can contribute to law enforcement efforts to tackle this criminal phenomenon. 

Perpetrators could for instance be traced by following the money. The migrant smuggling business model was therefore discussed and the areas to be developed have been selected.

As a direct result of this event, Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre has established a new concept to tackle the migrant smuggling criminal networks and their business model. The 5-tier concept covers:

  • dedicated projects on digesting suspicious financial transactions
  • enhanced co-operation with third countries to tackle illegal cash depositing
  • increased intelligence gathering from private financial sector
  • effective seizure and asset recovery 
  • targeting the illegal underground banking inside EU

The overall aim of the new concept is to increase the number of money laundering investigations and asset recovery activities with regard to migrant smuggling inquiries. Europol’s Financial Investigation Group, together with Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre, provide support to reach this goal.