Sri Lankan immigrant racket busted in Europe

A racket involving the transport of illegal immigrants from Sri Lanka to Europe has been busted by the European police, the Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry said on Friday.

The Ministry said that the racket was busted following more than a year of joint international efforts at police and judicial level.

The network is suspected of facilitating the illegal entry of people from Sri Lanka to France, frequently using a route through the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Tanzania, Turkey and Finland.

The Sri Lankan authorities quoted Europol as saying that judicial authorities and officers from the Finnish Border Guard, French Police (O.C.R.I.E.S.T) and Belgian Federal Police, ran a joint operation against the Sri Lankan criminal network this week and so far a total of 27 suspects have been arrested and interrogated in Finland, France and Belgium.

The main suspect was arrested in Saran, France. He was interrogated at the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris in the following days and charged with being suspected of facilitated illegal immigration.

In addition, 23 searches were conducted in the Member States involved, where documentary evidence and goods were seized.

A Europol Operational Centre was set up in Paris, in direct communication with Eurojust’s Co-ordination Centre in The Hague, to support the simultaneous execution of the operation in the three Member States involved.

Over 100 European officers were involved in the operation, the Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry said.