Migrant Smuggling Networks: Joint Europol-Interpol report

Among other findings, the report estimates that the annual turnover of migrant smuggling was worth an estimated USD 5 to 6 billion in 2015, representing one of the main profit-generating activities for organised criminals in Europe.

A summary of the report provides comprehensive insight into the activities, organisational structures, operating capabilities, geographical hotspots of migrant smugglers and their estimated profits.

Key findings reveal that:

  • Travel by 90% of the migrants to the European Union (EU) is predominantly facilitated by members of a criminal network.
  • Key migratory routes identified as main corridors for migrant smuggling are fluid and influenced by external factors like border controls.
  • Facilitators behind migrant smuggling are organized in loosely connected networks. The structure of migrant smuggling networks includes leaders who loosely coordinate activities along a given route, organisers who manage activities locally through personal contacts, and opportunistic low level facilitators.
  • Migrant smuggling is a multinational business, with suspects originating from more than 100 countries.
  • Migrant smuggling suspects tend to have previous connections with other types of crime.
  • Migrants who travel to the EU are vulnerable to labour or sexual exploitation as they need to repay their debt to smugglers.
  • While a systematic link between migrant smuggling and terrorism is not proven, there is an increased risk that foreign terrorist fighters may use migratory flows to (re)enter the EU.

Please find additional information on the Europol website.

Publication Date:
Tue 07 Jun 2016
Main theme:
Publication type: