Sixteen people suspected to be part of an organised criminal group (OCG) involved in illegal immigrant smuggling have been arrested in an operation backed by Europol.
Led by the Italian authorities, the operation concentrated on a criminal syndicate composed of Syrian, Algerian, Egyptian, Lebanese and Tunisian suspects. They were involved in the illicit smuggling of migrants into the European Union (EU).
Between 2014 and 2016, the criminal network transported more than 200 migrants into and within the EU by following the Balkan Route, then to Hungary and Italy before moving to Austria, Germany and France.
The criminal network provided logistical support to the migrants along the entire route. The members of the OCG used Italy to recruit the drivers, so called ‘passeurs’, and to provide them with ad hoc vehicles.
Each migrant was supposed to pay the OCG approximately 500 euros for transport.