Prague, Nov 24 (CTK) – The Czech police Squad for Uncovering Organised Crime (UOOZ) detained yesterday three men and one woman, all Czech citizens, who allegedly masterminded the illegal transport of migrants from Albania, Syria, Macedonia and Kosovo to Britain, UOOZ spokesman Pavel Hantak has said.
He said in a press release the persons were detained based on a European arrest warrant.
The international organised group faces five to 20 years in prison in Belgium, Hantak said.
They allegedly hired low-income Czechs and Slovaks as drivers of the lorries transporting the migrants.
Hantak wrote that a team of Czech, Belgian, British and German detectives worked on the case and that the UOOZ played a dominant role in the uncovering and documenting of the group´s criminal activities.
The UOOZ started to investigate the information about the possible participation of Czech citizens in the gang in October 2014.
“Up until now, the joint team of investigators has documented 19 transports of illegal migrants, 18 drivers have been identified, more than 100 illegal migrants have been transported and the yields from the criminal activities are estimated at some 500,000 euros,” Hantak wrote.
The detained Czechs are 43 to 53 years old. The Municipal Court in Prague and the Regional Court in Usti nad Labem, north Bohemia, will decide about their extradition to the Belgian judiciary.
During yesterday´s Europol coordinated raid, Czech police carried out three house searches and they also searched other spaces, in which they seized hundreds of thousands of crowns and computing equipment. They questioned about 20 people.
According to the statistics released yesterday, the Czech police detained 117 people smugglers from January until end-October, compared with a mere nine last year.
The detained were mainly drivers of lorries in which citizens of Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Pakistan and Syria were illegally taken across the border.
The Czech police uncovered 7697 illegal migrants in the first ten months of the year, which is 3773 more than in the comparable period of last year.