Police said Wednesday that a people smuggling operation unraveled last week in Attica used stolen passports and even forged an ID belonging to a member of Eurojust – the European Union agency dealing with judicial cooperation in criminal matters – to fly refugees into Central and Northern Europe.
Investigating officers said the smugglers helped refugees travel mostly to Germany, Sweden and Italy through Athens International Airport and Thessaloniki’s Makedonia Airport.
The 32-year-old Syrian leader of the operation, who was also on the radar of the German federal police and the European police agency (Europol), was arrested on September 14, along with his 21-year-old Romanian girlfriend in a remote area off the Athens-Spata highway, after a month-long covert operation.
In a search of the couple’s home, police found and confiscated 150 Greek and other EU country IDs and passports. Most of these documents were genuine and had been reported as stolen.
According to the case file, the couple would receive between 4,500 and 6,000 euros for each person they smuggled out of Greece to other European countries.
Moreover, they had smuggled more than 70 refugees to other countries since November 2016. Police have also charged a travel agent in the Athens neighborhood of Kypseli for facilitating the pair, by issuing airplane tickets to refugees, without vetting their travel documents.