Police smash Kosovan smuggling ring

By bne IntelliNews March 26, 2015

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Police have arrested 77 people in several countries across Europe in an international operation against a criminal network smuggling Kosovan migrants into the European Union.

46 arrests were made on March 25 in Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Kosovo and Slovakia, a Europol statement said. This followed 33 earlier arrests Austria, Germany, Hungary and Kosovo also made under operation Operation Falko.

“Law enforcement and judicial authorities of the countries involved, supported by Europol, Eurojust and Switzerland, dismantled the organised criminal network which was mainly made up of individuals originating from Kosovo, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,” Europol announced.

Operation Falko was initiated by Hungary in 2015 after a sharp increase in the number of illegal migrants from Kosovo entering the EU in late 2014 and earlier 2015. Tens of thousands of migrants entered the EU across the Serbian-Hungarian border.

Police in Hungary and other EU countries worked with non-EU member states including Kosovo to break up the people smuggling network.

It is suspected of recruiting irregular migrants in Kosovo and organising their entry to the EU. Most of the migrants travelled to Serbia on their own before making contact with the network, which smuggled them across the Hungarian border. The gang charged €2,800 per person or €7,000 for a whole family to organise a trip from Kosovo to France.

More Kosovans sought asylum in the EU in 2014 than nationals of any other European country, according to a Eurostat report published on March 20. During the year, 37,900 Kosovans applied for asylum in EU countries, with more than half, 21,500 people, applying for asylum in Hungary.

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