23 Arrests in France and the Netherlands as Iraqi-Kurdish Smuggling Network Busted

Around 10 000 migrants transported to the UK in refrigerated lorries 

The French Border Guard together with the French National Police (Police nationale) and the  Dutch Royal Marechaussee (Koninklijke Marechaussee), supported by Europol and Eurojust, dismantled a large criminal network involved in migrant smuggling

On the action day, law enforcement authorities arrested 23 suspected members of the criminal network (19 in France and 4 in the Netherlands), carried out five searches and seized firearms and vehicles. Irregular migrants discovered during the searches were brought to safety.

UP TO €7 000 FOR A SPOT IN A REFRIGERATED LORRY

The criminal network is suspected of having facilitated the transportation of around 10 000 Afghan, Iranian, Iraqi-Kurdish and Syrian migrants from the French areas of Le Mans and Poitiers to the United Kingdom. The migrants were transported in life-threatening conditions, concealed in refrigerated – often-overcrowded – lorries (up to 20 migrants in a lorry). The migrants paid up to €7 000 for the dangerous journey. The payments were collected via an undercover hawala banking system run by a suspect established in the Netherlands. In total, the criminal gang is suspected to have gained around €70 million in profit from their illegal activities. 

Europol supported this high-priority case by organising two operational meetings, facilitating the information exchange and providing tailored analytical support. On the action day, Europol deployed two experts on-the-spot, one in France and one in the Netherlands, to cross-check operational information in real-time. This case was also developed as part of EMPACT JOT Dunqett operational action.