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16 June, 2024
 
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Portugal busts criminal migration network

Portuguese authorities disrupt illegal migration ring

Source: Schengen Visa Info

A total of 110 officers from the Portuguese Criminal Police (PJ), together with 12 Service of Foreigners and Borders (SEF) and authorities from other countries, have been leading a crackdown on a criminal network considered responsible for the free movement in Europe of a large number of migrants in an irregular way.

During the actions against the criminal network, six suspects have been arrested. At the same time, searches were conducted at a total of 12 houses and hostels, following the investigation that started one and half years ago between Portugal and France, with the support of Germany and Spain as well as Europol and Eurojust.

According to Portugal Resident, the network is run out in several neighborhoods of Greater Lisbon, while it has been facilitated by exploiting a law that is used in all the visa-free travel zone of the European Union, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

Based on a report of CNN Portugal, the 2007 law is considered to put all the bloc at risk, especially regarding terrorism.

Local media reports said that there are about a dozen suspects, the majority of them from Southeast Asian countries.

These suspects set up a scheme to pervert the meaning of the SAPA platform, which is the SEF’s Automatic Pre-Arrangement System, by encouraging a large number of online applications for interviews by migrants based on purported work contracts.

The Minister for Interior Administration, Jose Luis Carneiro, said that there will be similar activities shortly.

“It is important to convey this message: practices that constitute criminal offenses of aiding illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings must deserve prompt, effective action, which guarantees the safeguarding of the Rule of Law and protects fundamental rights,” he pointed out.

The Minister said that illegal and irregular practices that seek to overcome instruments created to support immigration in regular terms unduly are what the country has to condemn and keep a firm hand on.

Carneiro emphasized that the ongoing operations prove that the government is aware of illegal practices.

“The integration of SEF inspectors into the PJ will – as we will see shortly – also empower our internal security system to combat illegal immigration and human trafficking practices,” he noted.

European Union countries are continuously dealing with a large number of people who attempt to reach these territories unlawfully.

Recently, the figures from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) showed that a total of 132,370 people attempted to reach EU countries unlawfully in the first six months of this year, thus accounting for the highest total of the first half of the year since 2016.

The same source showed that the most active route for a period from January until June this year remained the Central Mediterranean route, with nearly 65,000 detections of illegal border crossings.

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Cyprus  |  Portugal  |  minister  |  government  |  police

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