Polish services bust migrant smuggling operation

The prosecutor's office and the Border Guard managed to take down a criminal group that smuggled illegal migrants from Belarus to the EU. The services detained nine people and secured huge amounts of money.

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According to investigators, nine people were arrested by officers of the Bug River Border Guard Unit on Tuesday. The group has been operating since September 2021 in the Podlaskie province, as well as in Poland’s main cities and towns, including Łódź, Warsaw, Wrocław and others.

The group was headed by two people, one of them was responsible for organising the place and time of the illegal border crossings from Belarus to Poland, and the other dealt with financial issues. People living in Białystok and Warsaw were recruited as couriers via one of the internet communicators. Later on, these people used their cars to transport foreigners who had illegally crossed the Polish border with Belarus to Germany.

Couriers received payment for their services, which was given to them by designated persons, in accordance with the division of roles adopted in the criminal group.

“It was established that the person acting as a cashier in the group allocated a total of EUR 8.7 million to the group’s criminal activities, including a total of over EUR 4.3 million to couriers for the transport of foreigners to Germany,” the prosecutor’s office reported.

The detainees were charged with committing crimes “involving participation in an organised criminal group and organising illegal crossings at the state border with Belarus, contrary to the provisions of the law”. Four people were arrested by the court for three months. Preventive measures in the form of police supervision and a ban on leaving the country were applied to the remaining ones.

The prosecutor’s office secured the assets of the suspects in the total amount of over EUR 475,000 and USD 30,000.

According to a statement provided by the prosecutor’s office, these arrests are a continuation of an ongoing criminal case against the organised crime group. Previously seven people were arrested.

Until now “11 suspects remain under temporary arrest. The prosecutor's office is conducting proceedings with the participation of the Polish Border Guard in Sławatycze, eastern Poland. Europol also participated in the investigation of the group,” the prosecutor’s office report stated.

The case is in development, with services not ruling out further arrests.