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Arrests in smuggling of migrants case

10 December 2013


This morning, members of Kosovo Police Department of Organised Crime and the Organised Crime Investigation Unit of EULEX Police, working under the direction of an International Prosecutor of the SPRK and in co-operation with Europol and the Hungarian authorities, conducted joint operations of arrest and searches in the areas of Skenderaj/Srbica and Rahovec/Orahovac. This was the culmination of a seven month investigation into the smuggling of migrants from Kosovo into Hungary, and further, into the European Union. Five people were arrested for the offences of smuggling of migrants and organised crime, including a key organiser. Similar action has already been taken in Hungary.

EULEX

"In February 2013 EUROPOL informed EULEX about criminal activities of Hungarian and Kosovo citizens, who are involved in the smuggling of migrants from Kosovo to Hungary and Western EU Countries. The main organiser was identified as living in Kosovo. A decision on the initiation of this investigation was made on the 9th of May 2013 and a Joint Investigation Team agreement was signed. Joint Investigation Teams operate as full partnerships between EULEX Police and Kosovo Police but carried out under the leadership of SPRK", said Alan Edwards, the Head of EULEX Organised Crime Investigation Unit.

In September 2011 Austria and Hungary launched a joint response to the significant increase in illegal immigration into their countries by establishing Project FIMATHU (Facilitated Illegal Immigration Affecting Austria and Hungary). The common goal of the Project FIMATHU is to disrupt and dismantle the illegal immigration networks operating via the Western Balkans as well as in other European countries. Two years later over 7.500 irregular migrants have been apprehended and 891 smuggling incidents identified in total in the two countries. Many countries now work together to identify criminals smuggling migrants across this border.

Europol supported the investigation by facilitating the information exchange amongst the respective countries and by providing operational analysis and other operational support throughout the investigation. This is another example of how SPRK, Kosovo Police and EULEX organised crime investigators are working together in partnership to target transnational organised crime.