New Delhi: The Munich Federal Police coordinated sweep against an Indian-Nepalese human smuggling gang is likely to unravel a massive organised group of trafficking cells working in the countries like Romania, Poland, Germany and Denmark. A spokesperson from Federal Police Directorate Munich, told >Firstpost that a synchronised crackdown led by Munich Police and a collection of other enforcement agencies in Romania and Poland, resulted in the arrest of five traffickers and the police investigation including some covert operation is continuing to get to the bottom of the syndicate involved in smuggling men and women from India and Nepal into the European countries and executing bogus marriages with European nationals to obtain residence permits.
Although Munich Police refused to divulge the identity of Indian traffickers, it confirmed they were operating from a base in Germany and other countries and may have executed over 200 sham marriages of illegal immigrants from India and Nepal while charging ¬12,000 per migrant.
"The investigations are directed decisively against an Indian-Nepalese group of offenders, which mediated with the help of veiled visas for payment marriages with Eastern European nationals. Both the members of the smuggler group and the smuggled illegal migrants came from all over India and Nepal," the Federal Police Directorate Munich's spokesperson said.
The Indian authorities have not been involved so far in the ongoing investigation as the Indian and Nepalese gang members are mainly operating from Germany and other European countries.
"The evaluation of the findings and the evidence of the previous access measures is still ongoing. Other " possibly covert " police measures are still to be made," the Munich Federal Police spokesperson said.
Unlike other human trafficking cases, the ongoing investigation is focusing on beneficiary illegal migrants, who willingly accepted the offers from traffickers. Those who paid thousands of euros to marry European nationals to obtain permanent residency face deportation once judicial proceedings are over.
"So far, the suspects are subject to German prosecution. The criminal proceedings will, therefore, take place in Germany. The competent immigration authorities will have to decide on a possible deportation or other measures ending the stay after the criminal proceedings. The identity of the gang members is known to the German law enforcement agencies. They are both middle-aged male and female offenders," the Munich Federal Police spokesperson said.
The operation was carried out by German Police in cooperation with Europol-European Union Law Enforcement Agency, Romanian and Polish investigative authorities, sweeping 17 apartments in Germany, Romania and Poland on 22 August to dismantle the Indian-Nepalese trafficking network.
A Europol spokesperson told >Firstpost that the agency supported the investigation led by German Police. The agency, however, could not provide any more details as it does not have a working agreement with India. The smugglers lured the Indian and Nepalese nationals with an offer of ¬12,000 in lieu of journey to Europe, entry to Germany, application for a residence permit, as well as the arrangement of the wedding ceremony with European nationals. According to the Munich Police, some fake weddings were also carried out by the trafficking syndicate in Denmark. During the last month's search operation, the police officers also seized evidence such as marriage certificates, wedding planner business cards, several previously unused wedding rings etc.
"In two of the homes searched, the forces arrested another eight people suspected of fictitious marriage. So far, 15 cases of persons smuggled for fake marriages have been substantiated by the investigations. The main suspect, however, boasts of having brokered more than 200 sham marriages. As a result, the investigation will continue," German Police said.