Over 100 arrests in Europe-wide people smuggling op: police

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Police have arrested 103 suspects in a major swoop on a people-smuggling network in 10 European countries, Europe-wide police agency Europol said on Wednesday.

"The arrested persons are suspected of being involved in the clandestine smuggling of a large number of irregular migrants into and within the European Union," Europol said from its headquarters in The Hague, hailing one of the largest such operations ever, involving 1,200 police.

The gang brought in migrants from strife-torn countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria, mainly through Turkey and the western Balkans, Europol said.

"They were often smuggled in inhuman and dangerous conditions, such as in very small hidden compartments in the floors of buses and trucks, in freight trains or in boats," the agency said.

Police in Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Turkey and Kosovo made the arrests early on Tuesday with Europol's assistance.

Some 117 homes were searched and police confiscated a large number of mobile phones, laptops and bank statements, as well as a semi-automatic rifle with a large amount of ammunition, and more than 176,500 euros ($240,000) in cash.

© 2013 AFP

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