Europol, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, launched a new task force to tackle criminal networks operating in migrant smuggling and trafficking of human beings. The newly implemented operational platform is called the Joint Liaison Task Force Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Human Beings (JLT-MS), and is managed by Europol's European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC).
Europol's Deputy Executive Director of Operations, Wil van Gemert said: ‘Offering a “service” in high demand, criminal networks of migrant smugglers are not shy about using violence and violating the basic human rights of their “clients”. The criminal networks are constantly reshaping their business models to avoid law enforcement radars. Therefore, through this new JLT-MS, EU member states with the support of Europol will target even more effectively this major threat for human lives posed by criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling and trafficking of human beings.’
The actions undertaken by JLT-MS will assist EU member states and their partners in their work to identify criminal networks, share intelligence, prioritize, plan and carry out cross-border operations. Moreover, the new task force will promote increased direct contact and cooperation between law enforcement authorities, in addition to the already existing support mechanisms provided by EMSC.
According to van Gemert, in 2018, ‘Europol experts helped EU member states' law enforcement agencies in tackling criminal networks during 39 Action Days on the ground, leading to more than 600 arrested suspects of migrant smuggling.’
The task force aims not only at migrant smuggling and human trafficking, but also at the financial proceeds of this crime with an increase in financial investigations that focus on money laundering and asset recovery.