Home Travel & Adventure Europol Operation Results in 42 Arrests for Migrant Smuggling Across Danube

Europol Operation Results in 42 Arrests for Migrant Smuggling Across Danube


42 people have been arrested due to a cross-border investigation led by the Romanian Police, with the support of Europol.

The investigation led to the dismantling of an organized crime group involved in migrant smuggling. The group was responsible for smuggling migrants from Bulgaria to Romania, across the Danube River, and further into Western Europe, SchengenVisaInfo reports.

A cross-border investigation led by the Romanian Police, supported by Europol and involving the Bulgarian General Directorate Combating Organised Crime and the German Police has resulted in the dismantling of an organised crime group involved in migrant smuggling.


According to Europol, a total of 33 locations were searched, with 18 in Calafat, 11 in Timisoara, and 4 in Argeş. During these controls, the authorities seized:

  • Seven cars
  • Passports
  • Guns
  • Electronic equipment
  • Total cash €32,000, 75,000 LEI, and 7,500 GBP

Bangladeshi, Iraqi & Romanian Nationals Were Involved in Migrant Smuggling

The investigation revealed that the criminal network, consisting mainly of Bangladeshi, Iraqi, and Romanian nationals, was formed in early 2023. This network recruited migrants from the Middle East aiming to reach Western European countries, especially Germany.

As the authority explains, the network smuggled immigrants in two stages; initially, the immigrants were picked up from Bulgaria and transported across the Danube River by boat.

Migrants Smuggled Across Hungarian Border in Trucks with €3,500-€5,000 Payments

They were then sent to western Romania in groups of 20-30 people via freight transport. Smugglers also used off-road vehicles, where they often transported 13-17 immigrants in 5-seater cars. Such a dangerous method of transport led to migrants being hospitalized after a traffic accident in July 2023.

As for the second phase, which began in western Romania, the migrants hid in clandestine accommodation for several days before being transported in trucks, hidden among goods, across the Hungarian border into Western Europe, particularly Germany.

In this regard, migrants paid between €3,500 and €5,000 per person for the journey from the Danube River to their final destination. The investigation identified around 20 transports across Romania involving around 500 migrants in total.

Europol has also recently arrested 15 individuals involved in smuggling immigrants through the English Channel in small boats. The investigation targeted an Iraqi-Kurdish network suspected of smuggling irregular migrants from the Middle East and East Africa from France to the United Kingdom using substandard ships. At the same time, German authorities raided homes and storage areas.

Last month, a coordinated effort with Eurojust led to the dismantling of a criminal network specialized in orchestrating illegal migration to the EU through sham marriages. This operation also captured 15 individuals, with 13 arrested in Cyprus, one in Latvia, and another in Portugal.

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