European authorities have discovered a wonderful way to smuggle people. For a payment of 20,000 euros, the migrants were able to reach Europe via a private plane and forged diplomatic passports. Five people were arrested this week.
The European Union Agency for Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters reported today that the migrants, mostly Iraqis and Iranians of Kurdish origin, boarded private planes carrying forged diplomatic passports in Turkey. The official destinations of the cruises are not reached – mostly the Caribbean. During layovers at several European airports – including Austria, France and Germany – the migrants abandoned the plane, gave up their fake passports and applied for asylum.
The suspects paid up to 20,000 euros for each person smuggled. By way of comparison: smugglers charge around 2,000 euros for the perilous crossing in the Mediterranean by boat.
At least five smuggling operations are believed to have taken place in five different European countries between October and December 2020. In addition, various plans have been made to carry out other smuggling operations, Eurojust reports. In addition to smuggling migrants and forging identity documents, the criminal network is also suspected of issuing fake checks and defrauding airlines in an effort to build its own fleet. It is also alleged that the suspects defrauded the hotels by not paying the bills.
Seizure of two planes and a “luxury” car
With the support of Eurojust and Europol, police and judicial authorities in Austria, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy and the United States have dismantled the human smuggling network. During a day’s work last Tuesday, five suspects were arrested, two in Belgium and three in Italy. Seven homes were searched (one in Belgium and six in Italy), two planes, a “luxury” car and 80,000 euros were seized. An Italian bank account containing another 173,000 euros was also frozen. Equipment for forging identity documents, such as card printers, stamps, holograms and white plastic cards, was also found.
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