German and Greek police authorities, as part of a joint action with the European Union Law Enforcement Cooperation Agency (Europol), have arrested a person for smuggling migrants in the European region and confiscated a large number of identity documents.
According to a news release from the agency, the group of suspects are Syrian nationals residing in Germany, accused of using similar documents taken from people they know to immigrants of Syrian origin, according to TheSchengen.com.
In addition, these migrants were charged with between 3,500 and 4,500 for each person they helped him enter Greece illegally, and then move towards Western European countries.
“The criminal network, which has been active since 2020, is mostly made up of Syrian nationals. The suspects smuggled migrants mainly via flights from Athens to destinations in Germany. When the COVID-19 pandemic limited flights, criminals changed routes smuggling, opting to transport by boat across the Mediterranean, the press release explains.
European border agency Frontex previously revealed that the number of illegal border crossings rose in 2021. According to Frontex, the EU’s external borders have seen around 200,000 detections, which represents the highest rate of illegal activity since 2017.
Moreover, 36 percent of illegal border crossings were reported in 2021 compared to 2019, while comparing rates for 2021 and 2020 – detections increased by 57 percent.
The largest number of immigrants arrived from Syria, Tunisia and Morocco, with an additional increase in arrivals from Algeria and Afghanistan.
The roads worst affected were the Central Mediterranean, including Spain and Italy, which saw a total of 65,362 illegal border crossings from Libya, Tunisia and Turkey – an 83 percent increase compared to 2020 and the Easter land border, which includes Countries such as Belarus, Poland and Lithuania.
On the eastern road, authorities registered a total of 8,000 illegal border crossings last year. Although the discoveries are lower than those recorded in the Central Mediterranean route, the numbers are considerably high, particularly due to the heightened tensions between the European Union and Belarus. The latter’s president, Alexander Lukashenko, is accused of a mixed attack as many migrants arrive in EU member states via Belarus.
Moreover, the findings of the Norwegian media revealed that documents were found on the border between Poland and Belarus, indicating that Belarusian travel agencies have attracted migrants from the Middle East hoping to cross the border easily from the country to Western European countries.
Tensions escalated between Poland and Belarus as many migrants froze to death last year after being left stranded at the borders of those two countries.