Uppsala man ‘led human trafficking operation’

An international network with its roots in Sweden has smuggled hundreds of people into Sweden and other EU countries.

On Saturday a 35 year old man from Uppsala was remanded in custody on a number of charges including planning human trafficking operations. He denies the accusations but admitted having a false visa in his possession.

“Certain findings are of a compromising nature but he has acceptable explanations for that,” said the man’s lawyer, Olle Hancock, to TT.

The man is also accused of falsifying documents.

The 35 year old, who originally comes from Iraq, was arrested on Wednesday and was one of the first in a series of arrests. On Friday police from several counties, together with a national unit, carried out wide scale raids in Stockholm, Uppsala and Falkenberg.

During the house raids police confiscated money, false documents and equipment for forging the documents.

On Saturday two further people were arrested, while two were released, although they are still suspected of involvement.

In total, along with the 35 year old who is thought to have a leading role, eight people are in custody.

They are suspected of being involved in an international human trafficking ring. According to prosecutor Magnus Berggren hundreds of people have been brought to, or were preparing to come to, Sweden and other EU countries on false papers.

“This is simply about smuggling refugees for the sake of profit,” said Berggren to TT.

The network encompassed a number of countries including Holland and Belgium. The price for a ‘ticket’ to Europe is said to have been several thousand dollars.

“There are different sums for different services, but clearly those who were running this have earned big money,” said prosecutor Anne-Christine Maderud, who is also leading the investigation.

The prosecutor believes that around 20 people in Sweden are involved in the smuggling operation but said that no further arrests are expected at the moment.

According to the investigators there is nothing to indicate that the operation related to trading in women or children, although there were children among the families who have already been smuggled in.

Uppsala police began the inquiry in the autumn and in February Stockholm’s border police were brought in.