The Hague, 31 January 2008
In the last two months, a total of 23 persons were arrested in France and the UK, all suspected of involvement in the clandestine smuggling of a large number of illegal immigrants into the EU. Subsequently, a number of illegal immigrants have been arrested in both France and the United Kingdom during the investigation phase.
The police operation was carried out under the code name Greensea. Operation Greensea targeted a Turkish network and a Chinese network facilitating the illegal immigration of Chinese nationals into the UK. Some of the criminal networks were also involved in other forms of serious offences and organised crime such as money laundering and drug smuggling.
The Chinese network was responsible for recruiting the illegal immigrants in China and transporting them to Belgium and France. Once the immigrants arrived in the EU, Turkish criminals took control of them and transported them to the UK. The persons being smuggled were mainly Chinese nationals who are believed to have paid up to an equivalent of € 28,000 each to be brought to the UK. They usually travel in extremely cramped conditions in lorries, boats and trains from China across Asia and Europe to the UK in a journey that could take up to 18 months. With London as their intended destination, the journey often involved a number of people being hidden in lorries and cars across the Channel. Once in the UK, the Turkish network handed them back to the Chinese network, which then collected payment.
The operation was led by London’s Metropolitan Police, Special Intelligence Section, in close co-operation with the French Central Office for the Repression of Illegal Immigration and Employment of Foreigners without Residence Permits (OCRIEST) and the Belgian Police.
Europol’s support consisted in facilitating the exchange of information and providing intelligence analysis.
Eurojust was involved in the investigations. Several meetings were held in order to co-ordinate the arrests. Mr Hicks, Eurojust Acting Deputy National Member for the UK, commented: “Tackling the trafficking of human beings into and across the EU is a priority for the UK. Illegal immigrants are often trafficked in appalling conditions. Some die en route. The arrests in Operation Greensea are the tangible results of excellent co-operation between the prosecuting and investigating authorities in the UK and France, assisted by the authorities of several other member states. They also demonstrate the real value of effective working between Eurojust and its key partner Europol. Eurojust and Europol co-hosted 3 meetings to plan and prepare for these arrests.”
Mr Falletti, Eurojust National Member for France, said: “Once more, we can witness that a close co-operation between the European police and justice authorities led to the dismantling of a transnational criminal network. The success of this operation provides encouragement to all who are involved in the fight against this type of crime”.
For more information, please contact:
Mr Joannes Thuy, Press Officer & Spokesperson
Office +31 70 412 5508 - jthuy[AT]eurojust.europa.eu
Mr Søren Kragh Pedersen, Corporate Communications
Office +31 70 302 5118 – soren.pedersen[AT]europol.europa.eu