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#1 2023-07-18 21:53:01

Registered: 2023-01-04
Posts: 1,919

Six suspects who were caught smuggling immigrants in rental cars

The Portuguese Judiciary Police (Policia Judiciária Portuguesa) conducted a number of operations against a large-scale criminal network on July 17 with the assistance of Europol on the ground. By using forged documents, this criminal organization assisted Asian irregular migrants in obtaining Portuguese residence permits illegally from other parts of Europe.

Following an operation involving 110 officers from the Judiciary Police (Policia Judiciária) and 12 officers from the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras), six suspects have been detained in total, and searches have been carried out at twelve homes and six hostels. This action is the end result of a joint investigation that France and Portugal launched one and a half years ago with the assistance of Spain and Germany, as well as Europol and Eurojust.

Rental car from France to Portugal.
The smugglers employed a distinctive method of operation to carry out their illegal activity: they would take advantage of a Portuguese residence permit's online application process by helping migrants submit false applications. By disclosing false permanent addresses and immigrant workers' jobs in Portugal, they were able to accomplish this.

With the exception of an in-person interview, most of this process would be conducted online. In this instance, the criminal organization would rent various vehicles in Portugal to pick up the migrants, who were residing in various EU countries, from a prearranged meeting point in France. In order to avoid being discovered by law enforcement, the criminals then transferred the migrants back to France via narrow mountain passes after bringing them to Portugal for the interview. With their recently obtained documentation, the migrants would then proceed on their journey within the EU.

As of this writing, France has reported the arrest of 18 of this network's smugglers as they attempted to enter Spain from France with a total of 150 undocumented immigrants. However, the joint investigation revealed that the network rented at least 337 vehicles over the previous 1.5 years, enabling the transportation of up to 6000 unauthorized migrants. The organizers requested up to EUR 10,000 per immigrant for carrying out the irregular application process, and they assessed EUR 200 to EUR 400 for the cost of transportation from France to Portugal.

European collaboration that is successful.
The information exchange between the participating nations was facilitated by Europol, which also organized 7 operational meetings and provided more than 10 analytical products. Additionally, Eurojust sponsored the formation of a Joint Operational Team between France and Portugal and coordinated three meetings for coordination.

Europol assisted in the deployment of officers from France, Spain, and Germany on the action day by sending European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) experts to Lisbon, Portugal, to facilitate real-time communication exchanges. The European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) was the framework in which this investigation was conducted.


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