Smuggling ring suspected of bringing 10,000 Kurdish migrants to UK halted

“In total, 19 suspects were arrested in France and four in the Netherlands, in the vicinity of The Hague.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The European Union’s Judicial Cooperation Unit (Eurojust) on Wednesday said Dutch and French police carried out an operation against a group suspected of illegally transporting nearly 10,000 Kurdish migrants to the United Kingdom in refrigerated lorries and small rubber boats.

“In total, 19 suspects were arrested in France and four in the Netherlands, in the vicinity of The Hague,” Eurojust said in a statement. “Five premises were searched. Total profits for the criminal network amounted to EUR 70 million.”

According to the statement, authorities in France launched an investigation into the network in August 2018. French investigators found that “the network picked migrants up from rest and parking areas between Le Mans and Poitiers in France,” the Eurojust statement revealed.

“During the investigations, suspects using vehicles with Dutch license plates were regularly spotted, which led to opening up the case to the Netherlands and a request for coordination from Eurojust,” it stated.

French authorities began demolishing the makeshift refugee camp in the outskirts of the port city Calais in 2016 – known as “The Jungle” among the thousands displaced there – after a court decision.

Despite the French decision to demolish the refugee camp, thousands of migrants have continued to risk their lives as they attempt to cross the passage to the UK by boats, Reuters reported.

In October 2019, the body of a 17-year-old Kurd from the Kurdistan Region was found on a beach in Touquet, France. Another body of a 22-year-old Iraqi man was found on the same day, The Independent reported.

Eurojust said it financed a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) and organized a coordination center “to support the French and Dutch authorities in rolling out actions on the ground.”

“Two coordination meetings were organized to prepare this week’s operation,” Eurojust said, adding it “also provided support with the execution of European Arrest Warrants.”

Investigations revealed a link to a suspect running an illegal money transfer banking system in the Netherlands, the statement said, “which was partly used for the payment of transporting migrants.”

According to Eurojust’s findings, migrants would pay up to 7,000 Euros each to travel illegally to the UK.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany