Police nab six members of gang that charged Vietnamese migrants as much as €20,000 to be trafficked to Germany
Matúš Tóth -Illicit Trade
3 March 2020
Police in Germany have arrested six suspects during a Europol-backed investigation into an organised immigration crime network that is said to have charged Vietnamese nationals as much as €20,000 ($22,126) each to be smuggled into Europe.
The operation, which involved a total of 700 law enforcement officers, saw raids on 20 residential apartments and business premises across Berlin’s eastern Kreuzberg district, including nail bars and restaurants.
After issuing 13 arrest warrants for members of the gang, officers detained six alleged members of the network, and took into temporary custody an additional 30 individuals, who were presumed to have been trafficked Vietnamese nationals.
Members of the network are thought to have facilitated the trafficking into Germany of nearly 160 Vietnamese citizens, each of whom was charged between €5,000 and €20,000 for the journey.
The gang behind the conspiracy, which is said to have been under investigation since 2018, used companies it controlled in Germany and Romania to fraudulently secure valid Schengen visas for the migrants.
Once the Vietnamese nationals arrived in Germany, they were deprived of their belongings and forced to work for no pay until they had paid off the fee they were charged for their entry to Europe.
Migrants were first flown by plane from Vietnam to airports in Eastern Europe before being taken by car to various locations across Germany.
In a statement, Europol said it supported the operation by providing international coordination and operational assistance, deploying experts from its European Migrant Smuggling Centre to offer on-the-spot support to German authorities with the cross-checking of operational information.
Commenting on the arrests, Robert Crepinko, Head of Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre, said: “People involved in migrant smuggling are far from being benevolent individuals trying to help other people get a better life.
“They are ruthless criminals who will do everything to make money.
“This action today with the German authorities sends the clear message that Europol and its partners are determined to pursue those responsible for these terrible crimes.”
The 44-year-old Indian man, who lived in the German town of Elmshorn, was detained as a result of an investigation that began back in 2018.
The network led by the suspect is said to have facilitated illegal immigration by organising sham marriages, predominantly between Indian and Romanian nationals using forged documents.