Europol agents deployed at Greek hot spots to filter out extremists, smugglers

Europol agents deployed at Greek hot spots to filter out extremists, smugglers

European police agency Europol has deployed a team of agents across Greece’s migrant registration centers, or hot spots, with the aim of stopping the infiltration of ISIS operatives and curbing the activity of other criminal networks, Kathimerini has learned.

In an interview with Kathimerini’s Sunday edition, Robert Crepinko, the Slovenian director of Europol’s newly-launched European Migrant Smuggling Center (EMSC), said that 10 officers are currently stationed on the Aegean islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios and Leros, as well as the port of Piraeus, with the task of checking suspicious immigrants against Europol’s databases in the Netherlands.

“Together with the Greek authorities we are doing secondary security checks to assess the possibly dangerous migrants before they would enter the EU,” Crepinko said.

On top of filtering out suspected extremists, Crepinko said, the operation aims to support Greek authorities in other areas related to organized crime and migrant smuggling.

The operation was decided at the emergency summit of EU interior ministers following the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris in November. Athens was represented by Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas.

The Slovenian official said the entire process had to be readjusted following a recent EU deal with Ankara to stem migrant flows across the Aegean.

“We are looking into possible new routes that the migrant smuggling networks would use and we already have some developments in the new routes that have been used by organized crime,” he said, citing intelligence that smuggling networks are exploring options through Albania and Bulgaria.

Crepinko added that talks are ongoing with Citizens’ Protection Ministry officials to clarify technical details regarding the quick routing of information coming from the hot spots to the Europol database, while respecting Greece’s data protection rules and law enforcement information exchange.

“We are negotiating the terms of Europol activities in Greece and I hope at the end of this process we will be able to find a working solution,” Crepinko said.

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