This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Criminally Unprincipled, Immoral and Profitable

"There is a growing number of networks that we saw in the past were dealing in the trafficking of illegal drugs and are now shifting to people smuggling."
"The number of criminal activities is growing with the same speed as the number of illegal migrants."
Robert Crepinko, head, organized crime unit, Europol (EU's policing arm)

"As it becomes more difficult to move in Europe, the cost for the migrants and the need for smugglers will go up."
"The Syrians are managing their trips in a much more savvy way than any other group that we've seen in the history of migration, that I'm aware of."
Tuesday Reitano, head, Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime

"In Turkey, the smugglers are much more media-savvy and they cater to a specific audience."
Izabella Cooper, spokeswoman, Frontex (EU border policing agency
Aug, 29, 2015 Four arrested men are led by Hungarian police into Kecskemet court. The men are suspects in the deaths of 71 migrants found in an abandoned truck in Austria. Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images

Smuggling networks are busy doing what entrepreneurs have always done; filling a niche when society for one reason or another demands a service not otherwise available to fill people's needs. Law enforcement recognizes that where there is a need there will be those who step forward to provide services, illicit or not. And they are aware of the growing sophistication of those involving themselves in opening up opportunities for the desperate, and in the process enriching themselves.

Re-purposing vehicles from smuggling contraband to conveying people from point A to point B is just part of the business of opening up to new services in demand. And it isn't just the people smugglers that have diversified and introduced new methods to evade the law to produce a desired result, but the would-be migrants themselves using communications and social technology to select the services they feel would best serve their purpose.

Their economic status will dictate whether they choose to travel on a rubber dinghy or aboard a chartered business jet. The dinghy goes to Greece, the jet to the haven of Sweden or Germany. Trekking across the Western Balkans has become the haunt of Syrians escaping years of bloody conflict, rather than casting their lot to attempt an often-perilous Mediterranean sea voyage in very unfavourable circumstances from Turkey or Libya.

Europole's online monitoring unit has been using all the methods at their disposal to track and monitor social media activity related to terrorism, as well as the smuggling of people. As national law enforcement agencies attempt to keep abreast with the influx of migrants, they are dealing with seasoned criminal rings who have moved into these new business opportunities.

"As a global criminal enterprise, it is very lucrative", advised Patrik Engstrom, head of the Swedish police national border policing section. Human smuggling has been monitired for years, but is has latterly taken on new life since 2014. Sweden is hugely interested since, along with Germany it represents the top-value destination in Europe for asylum seekers. Both governments announced their intention to welcome Syrian refugees for permanent residency.

Middle-class Syrian families with the wherewithal to purchase $10,000 passage on a jet need only lift off from Turkey and fly directly to Germany or Sweden. If only passage of several hundred can be afforded, it means a below-deck voyage across the Mediterranean. Alternatively, thousands of dollars are demanded for more complex trips. Migrants need only check their smartphones for smuggling services available on Arabic-language Facebook.

Whether the journey is undertaken by boat, foot, rail or bus the 1,600 kilometres between Turkey and Germany involves smugglers. According to Swedish authorities, 90 percent of refugees reaching their border made use of smugglers for at least a portion of their trip. It's a business that is valued at billions of dollars.

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