Gang smuggled thousands into Sweden

Three men held in police custody for allegedly running a human smuggling ring that brought more than 1,000 people into Sweden were remanded in custody by a Malmö court on Friday morning.

The men are charged with human smuggling and creating a system that allowed such crimes to happen. All the men denied the charges.

The three Malmö men are linked to what is being called Sweden’s largest human smuggling ring. They expected to be kept in custody while prosecutors continue to build their case.

The three men, 31, 41 and 47, were nabbed during a nationwide sweep in May when anti-terror police stormed locations in three counties in Sweden netting some 20 suspected smugglers thought to be involved with importing more than 1,000 humans into the country.

Police followed the suspects’ activities for more than one year, according to Sydsvenskan. The three men due to appear in court on Friday have been under watch since April.

Police tapped the suspects’ phones, causing the 31-year-old man (who appeared in court on Friday morning) to claim to police during interviews that he was helping his own family seek asylum, reported Sydsvenskan.

Stefan Gradler, prosecutor on the case, said he still believes the man was regularly involved in human smuggling.

“Many times you can prove that people provide fake passports and that they take payment for smuggling, but you never find those smuggled,” he said, according to Sydsvenskan. “We think that we have this time.”

The two older men are suspected of orchestrating the smuggling ring, building up an organization to allow foreigners to travel to Sweden without a passport in order to make a profit — a serious crime in Sweden.

The “refugee package,” which the smugglers are suspected of providing those entering the country, allegedly contained tickets, passport, other identifications, and a personal background to tell officials.