Law enforcement authorities of Germany, Hungary, Italy and Slovenia, in strong cooperation with Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre, have dismantled an organised crime group that arranged smuggling of migrants from Hungary to Italy.
Coordinated investigations revealed that members of the smuggling network were Pakistani citizens who formed their criminal enterprise in Italy. More than 100 migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan were smuggled by them in the last couple of years, to destinations in Italy or Germany.
On each occasion between 20 and 36 migrants were transported, hidden in the cargo bays of minivans. The perpetrators rented their vehicles in either Italy or Hungary using fake documents. The illegal transportation was always secured by lead cars, which were also rental vehicles.
Recruiters were extremely vigilant; migrants and drivers never saw each other. Migrants were first loaded into vehicles in abandoned streets and the driver arrived afterwards. The criminals always tried to mitigate risks to avoid higher penalties.
After several smuggling incidents were detected in Germany, Italy and Slovenia, a joint investigation was launched. Fingerprints collected at a crime scene in Germany matched the fingerprints of an already imprisoned suspect in Slovenia. This suspect – believed to be one of the key facilitators – was extradited to Hungary to be prosecuted as the leader of an organised crime group.
The two Pakistani leaders of the migrant smuggling organised crime group have been charged in Hungary, while other leaders are being prosecuted in Italy. More drivers have already been sentenced in Germany and Slovenia.
The investigations were carried out by the Hungarian National Bureau of Investigation, Italian Carabinieri – ROS, German Federal Police and Slovenian National Police, and required close international cooperation. The European Migrant Smuggling Centre supported these investigations with its analytical capabilities and by hosting operational meetings.