Spanish police have dismantled a criminal smuggling ring that illegally trafficked hundreds of Pakistani migrants into the European Union in “life-threatening conditions,” Spanish officials said on Thursday.
According to Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, the smuggling ring illegally transported groups of Pakistanis from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Italy or Spain.
“Transported in life-threatening conditions in cars, vans or trucks, they often spend days confined with little or no supplies,” Europol said.
Police from eight countries were involved in the operation.
Croatian police intercepted a lorry transporting 77 Pakistani migrants in a space measuring just eight square metres (86 square feet), a Spanish police statement said.
“The migrants, including four minors, travelled in crowded and subhuman conditions, and were forced to make several holes in the roof to be able to breathe, so the police action prevented what could have been a tragedy,” the statement added.
Europol said each person was charged between €5,000 and €8,000 euros to be smuggled.
“At least 400 migrants” were smuggled into the EU in recent months, with the criminal ring earning over €2.0 million euros according to Spanish police.
Police believe that the Spain-based ring has been active “for several years, so the total number of migrants smuggled in is much higher”.
Police in several EU countries and Bosnia, as well EU judicial agency Eurojust, were involved in the investigation that led to the arrest of the criminal gang’s suspected leader.
During the operation, police arrested 15 people — 12 in Spain and one each in Croatia, Slovenia and Romania.
Greece is also a target of criminal smuggling networks.
Often, illegal immigrants pose as Syrian refugees but are later found to be Afghanis or Pakistanis.
Rather than integrating into Greece, they come with Islamic radicalisation, often more vicious than practised in other countries of the world.
Although Greece has been spared of radical Islamic terrorism, as many of the illegal immigrants are poor, they become prey to terrorist recruitment and lone wolf attacks, as is consistently seen in France, Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom.
In Greece, Pakistanis are often seen waving pro-Shariah law flags and advocating for Pakistan’s occupation of India’s Jammu and Kashmir region.