On 27 October 2016, the Hungarian National Police, supported by Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) carried out an operation aimed at dismantling a criminal organised group from Kosovo involved in migrant smuggling. With the cooperation of the authorities in Kosovo, this joint action day resulted in 6 arrests and the seizure of hand grenades, drugs, cell phones, cash and vehicles.
More than 120 police officers participated in the operation, during which 8 house searches were performed in several cities of Kosovo. Europol provided on-the-spot support by deploying a mobile team with real-time access to Europol’s databases. In addition, the Agency facilitated the information exchange between the EU Member States involved: Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Italy, which ultimately led to the success of this joint investigation.
Regarding the modus operandi, the members of the criminal network recruited the migrants aged 16 to 18 from Kosovo who were then smuggled through the Western-Balkan route to Italy, where they would claim asylum. Upon reaching the age of majority, the migrants were granted a legal residence permit in the EU. The investigations revealed that around 35 migrants were smuggled; most of them were found in Italian and Hungarian shelters. After they reached their destination, the expenses were covered by their family members.
The joint action is a direct consequence of the FALKO operational action within the EMPACT Facilitated Illegal Immigration priority launched by the Hungarian Police in 2015 in order to enhance the co-operation between EU law enforcement agencies and third parties, in particular the Kosovo authorities.