Europol agency said it had supported the Spanish National Police in dismantling an organised criminal network smuggling migrants from Syria to the European Union (EU), adding that law enforcement authorities from France, Germany and Norway were also involved in the investigation.
According to Europol, the investigation revealed that the criminal network, possibly active since 2017, was involved in a wide range of illegal activities, including migrant smuggling and the trafficking of drugs and firearms.
"Well-established in several EU and Middle Eastern countries, the criminal network used an unusually long and expensive route to smuggle irregular migrants from Syria into the EU; starting in Syria, irregular migrants were taken via Sudan or the UAE towards Libya. From Libya they were taken to Algeria, before the journey into Europe via the Mediterranean." It said.
Europol explained that for the final leg of the journey, the suspects facilitated their illegal entry into Spain across the Western Mediterranean, as Syrian nationals are usually smuggled through the Eastern Mediterranean, from Turkey to Greece.
"Although some irregular migrants remained in Spain, the final destination countries for the majority of those who managed to reach Spanish shores were France, Belgium, Germany and Norway." The agency added.