42 Arrested For Smuggling Migrants Across The Danube


A cross-border investigation led by the Romanian Border Police (Poliția de Frontieră), 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. The group were smuggling migrants from Bulgaria to Romania, across the Danube river, and then toward Western Europe, Europol reported Friday.

According to Europol, the investigative activities established that the criminal network, composed mainly of Bangladeshi, Iraqi and Romanian citizens, was formed in the beginning of 2023. The suspects recruited migrants from Middle-East who wanted to reach Western European countries, especially Germany.

The criminal network smuggled the migrants in two phases, Europol said, adding that in the first phase, the suspects picked migrants up from Bulgaria and transported them in boats across the Danube river. The migrants would then be taken in groups of 20-30 via cargo transport to the western part of Romania, mainly the areas of Timișoara/Arad and Caraş Severin. The smugglers also used off-road vehicles, but mainly transported groups of 13-17 migrants in 5-seat vehicles. This particularly dangerous means of transportation resulted in the hospitalisation of migrants following a traffic accident in July 2023.

Once in the western Romania, the second phase would take place. The suspects would place migrants in clandestine accommodation for several days, before transporting them hidden between goods in trucks across the Hungarian border to Western Europe, mainly Germany. The migrants paid between EUR 3 500 and 5 000 per person to be smuggled from the Danube river to their final destination. The investigation identified 20 transportations across Romania of a total of about 500 migrants.

Europol said it supported the investigation within the framework of the operational plan signed with Romania in regards to the Ukrainian crisis. Europol facilitated the exchange of information and provided operational coordination and analytical support. On the action day, Europol deployed an analyst to Romania to cross-check operational information against Europol’s databases and to provide leads to investigators in the field. Europol also facilitated the deployment of investigators from Bulgaria and Germany to support the Romanian officers involved in the operational actions in the field.

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