Migrant smuggling in the EU (Europol)

This report presents migrant smuggling routes, the criminal networks, the links with other crimes and terrorism, illicit financial flows and the way forward.

The report shows inter alia that:

  • More than 90% of the (>1 million) irregular migrants who reached the EU in 2015 used facilitation services at some point during their journey.
  • Routes crossing the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas currently see the highest number of irregular migrants trying to reach the EU.
  • In and outside the EU, more than 230 locations where illegal facilitation or migrant smuggling take place have been identified (criminal hotspots).
  • 44% of the networks involved in migrant smuggling are exclusively composed of non-EU nationals, 30% are composed of EU nationals only and 26 % are composed of both EU and non-EU nationals.
  • Migrant smuggling networks in source or transit countries exploit ethnic and national ties to diaspora communities across the EU.
  • Social media are used by smugglers to recruit, offer services, adapt to changing situations and adapt pricing models, as well as by irregular migrants to share information.
  • Some of the suspects involved in migrant smuggling are also involved in other types of crime such as drug trafficking, document forgery, property crime and trafficking in human beings.
  • Overall, the estimated criminal turnover associated with migrant smuggling to and within the EU is between EUR 3 - 6 billion for 2015 alone.

The report was released on the occasion of the launch of the new European Migrant Smuggling Center (EMSC) which will proactively support EU Member States and their operational partners in targeting and dismantling complex and sophisticated criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling.

Publication Date:
Tue 23 Feb 2016
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