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Monday, February 13, 2012 - 5.46 GMT

Joint European operation busts human smuggling network

 

An active organised crime group that was facilitating illegal immigrants from Sri Lanka into the EU has been uncovered, following more than a year of joint international efforts at police and judicial level supported by Eurojust and Europol.

The network is suspected of facilitating the illegal entry of people from Sri Lanka to France, frequently using a route through the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Tanzania, Turkey and Finland.

In a press release issued on February 10 the Europol said, “on 6 February 2012, judicial authorities and officers from the Finnish Border Guard, French Police (O.C.R.I.E.S.T) and Belgian Federal Police, ran a joint operation against the Sri Lankan criminal network”, and that “so far a total of 27 suspects have been arrested and interrogated in Finland, France and Belgium. The main target was arrested on Sunday in Saran, France. He was interrogated at the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris in the following days and charged with being suspected of facilitated illegal immigration. In addition, 23 searches were conducted in the Member States involved, where documentary evidence and goods were seized. The investigation is still ongoing. In total over 100 officers from Finland, France and Belgium are involved”.

Full press release issued by Europol is reproduced below and at;

https://www.europol.europa.eu/content/press/joint-international-operation-against-sri-lankan-people-smugglers-1301

“JOINT INTERNATIONAL OPERATION AGAINST SRI LANKAN PEOPLE’S SMUGGLERS

10 February 2012

On 6 February, judicial authorities and officers from the Finnish Border Guard, French Police (O.C.R.I.E.S.T) and Belgian Federal Police, ran a joint operation against a Sri Lankan criminal network. The network is suspected of facilitating the illegal entry of people from Sri Lanka to France, frequently using a route through the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Tanzania, Turkey and Finland. The operation is the result of more than a year of joint international efforts at police and judicial level, supported by Eurojust and Europol.

So far a total of 27 suspects have been arrested and interrogated in Finland, France and Belgium. The main target was arrested on Sunday in Saran, France. He was interrogated at the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris in the following days and charged with being suspected of facilitated illegal immigration. In addition, 23 searches were conducted in the Member States involved, where documentary evidence and goods were seized. The investigation is still ongoing. In total over 100 officers from Finland, France and Belgium are involved.

The case originated from an investigation initiated by the Finnish Border Guard in December 2010 after the arrival at Helsinki Vantaa airport of two females with counterfeit Indian passports who were accompanied by an Indian male. After a preliminary investigation, a very active organised crime group was uncovered that was facilitating illegal immigrants from Sri Lanka into the EU. Some of the illegals used totally counterfeit British passports produced in Thailand to travel to Canada. So far over 50 facilitations were discovered in the course of this investigation.

A joint investigation team (JIT) composed of Finnish and French authorities, with Europol participating, was established during a coordination meeting at Eurojust in September 2011. The JIT legal framework allowed a prompt exchange of information to be used for judicial purposes without the need of lengthy rogatory procedures.

A Europol Operational Centre was set up in Paris, in direct communication with Eurojust’s Co-ordination Centre in The Hague, to support the simultaneous execution of the operation in the three Member States involved. The two centres allowed for real-time exchange of information and evidence between police and judicial authorities in the countries concerned, and immediate analysis of the data collected. The operational centre was hosted by O.C.R.I.E.S.T. (Office Central pour la Répression de l’Immigration irrégulière et de l’emploi d’Etrangers Sans Titre). Eurojust and Europol will continue to follow the developments of the related investigations to analyse the results of the operation and ensure the best outcome at judicial level.”


 

 
 
   
   
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Last modified: February 13, 2012.

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