By Abdullah Asiran
THE HAGUE, Netherlands
The EU police agency Europol said Thursday that 12 people were arrested in an operation against an organized crime syndicate smuggling migrants from the Balkans to Europe.
Europol said in a statement on its website the suspects allegedly smuggled migrants from Kosovo to Slovenia via the Balkan route.
They were apprehended during a joint operation of Europol, European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and the Kosovar and Slovenian police on Wednesday.
Europol said the crime group used different vehicles for transportation and safe houses along the route to smuggle migrants.
In 2017, this crime syndicate smuggled 300 people, including children, to Europe every month.
The smugglers charged migrants €2,500 - €3,000 per person and made €900,000 every month, Europol said.
Eight suspects were arrested in Kosovo, and four in Slovenia.
During the operation, 12 houses were searched and 19 mobile devices, four guns, and forged passports were seized.
Headquartered in Hague, Europol helps 28 EU member states in their fight against terror, cybercrime and other serious and organized forms of crime.
Additionally, Europol may work with non-EU partner states and international organizations.