Migrant Smuggling Network Smashed in Spain, Greece, EU Police Says; No IS Links

Αssociated Press

FILE - In this April 6, 2017 file photo, a migrant rescued from a rubber boat by members of Proactiva Open Arms NGO, in the Mediterranean sea, about 56 miles north of Sabratha, Libya. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)

STOCKHOLM (AP) — European Union police agency Europol says it has helped break up a criminal network that had been working for 10 years to smuggle migrants into Europe and provide them with false identification documents.

Spanish police say that a criminal network that smuggled migrants into Europe over a decade has no known links to Islamic extremists.

Europol said in a statement Wednesday that seven alleged members of the gang, including its suspected leader, were arrested in Spain and one in Greece as a result of a coordinated series of raids on houses in late March.

Europol said the gang operated its own document forgery factory in Greece, a country that for years was the main entry point for migrants from the Mideast and Africa trying to reach Europe.

Spanish police say that the gang chiefly helped traffic migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to countries in northern Europe.

A Spanish police statement said the network leader, a man of Syrian origin, was arrested in Madrid and his brother in Athens. It said the leader lived between Spain and Belgium.

Raids in Spain, Greece and Belgium uncovered 100,000 euros in cash, documents, data storage devices and mobile phones.