Italy smashes Afghan people-smuggling ring
- 12 January 2011
- From the section Europe
A gang which smuggled mainly Afghan migrants into Europe has been broken, European police force Europol has said.
It said 26 alleged gang members had been arrested in Italy with further arrests in Germany and France.
It said the gang was responsible for smuggling about 200 illegal migrants into Europe every month, a fifth of them children.
The migrants are thought to have paid up to 5,000 euros (£4,000) to be smuggled across Europe.
The arrests on Tuesday were the result of a two-year Europol investigation which included house searches during which some of the smuggled children were found.
Most of the migrants began their journey in Afghanistan before travelling through Pakistan, Iran and Turkey to Greece, from where they were moved on into western Europe.
Europol said those behind the gang used false EU identity documents and transferred funds using the popular Hawala transfer system.
Piero Saviotti, a prosecutor in Rome, said some of those arrested were "suspected of involvement in international terrorism", AFP news agency reports.