121 arrests as part of the operation against migrant smuggling and human trafficking
An INTERPOL-coordinated operation targeting migrant smuggling and human trafficking triggered 121 arrests in 25 countries, resulting in 193 new investigations.
Operation Storm Makers (March 21-25, 2022) saw authorities take enforcement action against organized crime groups suspected of facilitating the travel of Asian men, women and children across borders for the purpose of exploitation and/or profit.
In total, the authorities rescued 80 victims of human trafficking and identified some 3,400 irregular migrants.
Operational coordination units have been set up in Hanoi (Vietnam) and Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), helping to assess intelligence and facilitating enforcement actions between participating countries.
Smart electronic gates, connected to INTERPOL databases, have been activated at airports in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to strengthen passport controls and help detect false documents.
Globally, some 15 million checks were carried out against INTERPOL databases at air, land and sea borders, generating hits or alerts for fraudulent travel documents, as well as INTERPOL notices against people wanted on various charges, including murder and fraud.
In Turkey, police have arrested four people, dismantling an alleged international organ trafficking network. The criminal network, which originated in India, is accused of targeting vulnerable Indonesian nationals and facilitating kidney transplants in Turkey. The suspects went so far as to stage wedding photos and falsify documents in order to establish false family relationships between recipients and donors. With each kidney fetching $37,000 on the black market, the organ donor would receive $15,000, with the rest split among the members of the network.
Malaysian and Cambodian police have worked closely on a case involving 15 men and one woman lured to Cambodia on the promise of lucrative pay to work in a call centre. Upon arrival, however, they were locked up and forced to work 14 hours a day as crooks. Authorities in both countries believe there are more victims of the criminal group and the ongoing investigation is being supported by INTERPOL’s Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Unit.
Additional Operational Highlights:
- The Philippines rescued 32 victims of human trafficking and arrested eight suspects accused of child trafficking, exploitation and abuse.
- Greek authorities intercepted a car carrying five irregular migrants from Afghanistan and Syria, who had each paid 4,000 euros to a smuggler in Turkey to be transported to Thessaloniki.
- Vietnamese migrants were intercepted at the Hungarian-Romanian border as they headed for Germany. Their smugglers, also of Vietnamese descent, had coordinated all aspects of their illegal journey through social media platforms.
- In the United Arab Emirates, a 17-year-old girl was rescued from sexual exploitation. Brought from Pakistan to the United Arab Emirates when she was just 13, the girl was forced into prostitution by a family member.
- In the Maldives, intelligence has led authorities to a possible brothel operating as a salon and spa, where they believe trafficked Thai women have been coerced into prostitution. Authorities have contacted the women to ensure their safe return to Thailand and are working through INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau in Bangkok to investigate the organized criminal group behind their recruitment and exploitation.
INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said: “In just one week, this operation has generated nearly 200 new investigations, revealing the scale of these crimes. It’s a huge responsibility for law enforcement, especially when you know that victims are in abusive or life-threatening situations. INTERPOL will continue to support the authorities to close the loopholes and ensure that the perpetrators of these appalling activities are brought to justice.
Participating countries received support from INTERPOL’s Specialized Operational Network against migrant smuggling, as well as its Expert Group on Human Trafficking. AIRCOP, Homeland Security Investigationsthe International Organization for Migration and the Bali Process Regional Support Office provided pre-operational training. EUROPOL actively supported the operational phase by cross-checking information with its databases.
Learn more about INTERPOL