Spotlight report: migrant smuggling networks and their methods

July 12, 2023

The facilitation of illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings continue to be among the most serious criminal threats facing the European Union. Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) plays a pivotal role in tackling these crimes, in collaboration with Member States and external partners.

In a spotlight report published today, Europol provides a picture of the most important developments in the migrant smuggling landscape over the last year.

Based upon operational intelligence contributed to the EMSC in 2022, the report details what the main features of modern migrant smuggling networks are, and how these networks administer themselves. It also explains phenomena such as criminal networks operating together in ‘joint ventures’, where illicit actors cooperate at various stages in the migrant smuggling chain.

Focus of the report

  • The global, collaborative and agile nature of criminal networks
  • How criminal networks are organised: roles and collaboration
  • The tools enabling migrant smuggling
  • Links to trafficking in human beings
  • Europol’s response and way forward
  • Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre

Established in 2016 in the aftermath of the migration crisis in Europe, the EMSC covers two Analytical Projects (APs). These are dedicated to tackling migrant smuggling (AP Migrant Smuggling) and trafficking in human beings (AP Phoenix). Both APs play a crucial role in coordinating and supporting law enforcement partners in EU Member States in conducting high-profile operations against criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling.

Read the spotlight report here.

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