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108 people smugglers were arrested, and two cases of human trafficking were detected during a one-week-long investigation by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) that took place from June 23 to July 3.

The investigation, named the Joint Action Days (JAD) Danube 8, targeted organised border-crossing crimes in Central and South-Eastern Europe, and was supported by the Austrian authorities, as well as 12 other EU and EU-associated countries, Europol, Eurojust and INTERPOL.

According to Frontex, the investigation targeted human trafficking, document falsification and the smuggling of migrants. Border inspections were conducted by Frontex standing corps officers, customs agents, border guards and police officers from the participating nations during this operation.

“As a result of the week-long operation held between June 23 – July 3, the participating authorities managed to arrest 108 people smugglers and identify two cases of trafficking in human beings. Additionally, 115 false documents were detected, and 25 stolen vehicles were seized,” Frontex reports in a press release.

180 hits were recorded from 13,766 cross-checks EUROPOL conducted against its databases of operational data provided by the participating nations. Furthermore, EUROPOL also deployed its Virtual Command Post to ease information sharing between the participating nations and agencies.

In total, 65 million border checks were conducted by Frontex with the help of other participants as well, which were the following:

  • Albania
  • Austria
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Greece
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia

Cases of people smugglers are quite frequently reported in Europe. Most recently, on July 24, 62 Cuban citizens were arrested in a major EU operation for smuggling migrants. Besides Europol and INTERPOL, part of the operations were also Germany, Greece, North Macedonia, Spain and Serbia.

Criminal activities such as illegal transportation, false documentation for a specific amount of money and entering the EU illegally were identified. Travel documents were stolen by the group and provided to migrants who looked alike to the real holders of the documentation.

Over the last year, more than one million non-EU citizens were found illegally present in the EU, which is 59 per cent higher in comparison to the levels recorded in 2021, while Hungary and Germany were the countries that registered the highest number of illegal people present in these regions.

The largest nationality group were Syrians (175,960), next Afghanis (119,520), followed by Moroccans (60,215). Algerians lead the list of nationalities ordered to leave the EU in 2022, with 33,535 cases in total, Moroccans coming in second (30,510), and Pakistanis coming third (25,280).

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