On 5 January 2017, the German Federal Police conducted several house searches in Berlin and executed two arrest warrants in Mönchengladbach and in Germany’s capital city. At the same time, Italian authorities arrested a suspect in Bolzano (Italy). The arrested individuals are suspected of being part of a criminal network involved in smuggling and trafficking of irregular migrants.
This criminal syndicate, composed mainly of Lebanese nationals, facilitated the transport of Syrian nationals via Hungary and Austria to Germany. They are suspected of having smuggled 29 persons in 12 different smuggling incidents since June 2016. Each migrant had to pay between EUR 500 -1 000 to the network. In some of the cases, the perpetrators transported the migrants under dangerous circumstances, overloading cars with migrants.
In November 2016, the Austrian authorities already dismantled a network operating in Vienna, strongly connected to the criminal group targeted by the German police.
Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre actively supported the involved Member States’ law enforcement authorities by cross-checking information, analytical support highlighting links between different national investigations and with the coordination of operational meetings in Austria and Germany.