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Suspected people smugglers arrested

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19:02 CEST+02:00
Swedish police arrested eighteen suspected people smugglers in two separate operations on Tuesday.

Arrests were made in Stockholm, Sundsvall and Malmö in connection with the two investigations. In both cases, those arrested were suspected of smuggling people into the country from Iraq.

"Police in Västernorrland County carried out a major operation on Tuesday morning, in which eleven people were arrested in Malmö and Sundsvall. They are now detained on suspicion of organized people smuggling, forgery and theft," said Leif Hemmingsson, spokesman for Västernorrland Police.

Computers, mobile phones and equipment believed to have been used for forging documents have been seized by police.

People smuggling in Sweden has become much more widespread in recent years.

"There has been a dramatic increase. A few years ago we just had the odd case that made it to court. But in the last year alone we have had around ten major cases. This is due in large part to the situation in the Middle East, where a couple of million people want to escape the worry and the hardship of war," said Leif Svensson of the National Criminal Investigation Department (NCID/Rikskriminalen).

"There are lots of people who want to take advantage of the situation and make money out of it. There's a lot of money involved - it can cost up to 100,000 kronor ($14,300) to get help to come from Iraq to Sweden. And I can't see an end to this trade, even if some of the people smugglers are locked up," he said.

Three people have been on remand in jail in Sundsvall for several weeks, since being arrested in a similar raid

The seven arrests in Stockholm came about as a result of a police investigation that began in autumn of last year. The men and women were seized in various suburbs in the southern part of the city.

There is no clear connection between the Stockholm raid the operations carried out in Malmö and Västernorrland.

"They are different cases. There may be a connection but it is not something we know about at the moment," said Stockholm prosecutor Marie Lind Thomsen.

"It is early in the investigation and more arrests could follow. People could also be released without charge," she said.

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