DUBAI, (Reuters) – Abu Dhabi police have uncovered an international organised crime ring that smuggles people from Asia to Europe through airports in the United Arab Emirates federation, the official WAM news agency said.
It said the gang exploited gaps in security and passenger transfer procedures used by some international airlines to smuggle nationals from Asian countries to Europe.
Major Abdul Rehman al-Sakkaf of Abu Dhabi Criminal Investigation Department said the ringleaders were not in the UAE but were running the operation from two other states in the Gulf Arab region.
The UAE, which includes the Gulf Arab trade and tourism hub of Dubai, is home to residents from around the globe.
In 2006, the UAE — a wealthy seven-member federation — passed the Arab world’s first law aimed specifically at combating trade in people, with penalties ranging from five years to life in jail. This year, the nearby Gulf kingdom of Bahrain issued its own law.
Sakkaf said police had identified two men who were working with European accomplices to find Asians willing to pay 40,000 dirhams ($10,890) to illegally travel to Europe. He said two passengers had been found aboard a flight planning to swap seats with other passengers in Abu Dhabi with a view to eventually reaching the Netherlands.
One of the four suspects was captured by UAE police and investigations revealed that he had trafficked a number of people to Europe via UAE airports over the past year.
The officer said the suspect disclosed the names of other members of the international gang in Asian and European countries adding that efforts are being made to arrest them.