A frame of the police video on the operation against the alleged traffickers | Photo: Police
A frame of the police video on the operation against the alleged traffickers | Photo: Police

Italian and French police with the support of Europol has uncovered a criminal group that allegedly trafficked thousands of Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi immigrants from Asia to several European countries. That's according to investigative sources from Monday.

Turin police, together with French border officials and EU agency for law enforcement cooperation Europol, has allegedly dismantled a criminal organization. Investigative sources said Monday the criminal gang smuggled Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi immigrants from Asia to Europe. 

The immigrants were taken to 'safe houses' -- small apartments near the northern Italian cities of Turin and Bergamo -- and then driven to France or Spain. They were crammed in cars and lorries, the sources said. Italian authorities arrested 8 suspects and issued arrest warrants for 2 other people, while another suspect was detained in France.

Investigators said the organization helped over 1,000 immigrants cross the border illegally in 2 years, making more than €1 million.

Investigation started in March

The investigation that led to the arrests kicked off in March 2019 after a young Pakistani citizen was stabbed in Turin by a group of Pakistanis.

The wounded man lived with 7 others in the city's Via Cecchi and had reportedly paid €500 to the alleged criminal organization to travel to Paris. He was carrying more cash when he was stabbed, according to the arrest warrant decree issued by judicial authorities. The man said the organization "wanted all his money" and tried to kill him when he refused to give them the cash, the papers said.

The immigrants reached Italy with instructions to contact 'Ali', the alleged leader of the organization, through "WhatsApp, to avoid wiretapping," according to court documents. They were then forced to live in small apartments in Turin's Via Carmagnola, Via Cecchi and Via Portula as well as in Bergamo.

Then, after paying hundreds of euros, groups of up to 30 people were driven across the border on a Renault Megane, Boxer Peugeot or Ford Transit. Police documented dozens of trips.

Organizations used dozens of drivers in Europe

On April 30, police discovered 27 Indian and Pakistani nationals crammed in a lorry in Bruere, in the Turin area, headed for the French border.

2 minors were discovered in the trunk of the car and had a hard time breathing, investigative sources said. The organization allegedly used dozens of drivers who were arrested across Europe, in particular in France, according to the sources.

Last summer in Turin, several Pakistani nationals were attacked by alleged gang members who threatened 'clients' so they would keep quiet. Immigrants received death threats and were ordered to cancel any message that could be used by police to link them to the organization.

According to court documents, the gang moved its operations from Turin to Serravalle Scrivia, in the province of Alessandria, and Seriate near Bergamo as investigations intensified. "It has become impossible to work in Turin," a suspect said in a tapped conversation. "There are too many controls. We must leave."

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