Europe police arrest Vietnamese people smuggling gang

THE HAGUE (AFP) - European police have arrested more than two dozen alleged people smugglers in six different countries in a probe into illegal immigration of Vietnamese citizens, Europol said on Thursday.

Police in Britain, the Czech Republic, France, Finland, Germany and Poland swooped on the gang on Wednesday, arresting 26 people and discovering 15 "irregular" immigrants, said Europol, who coordinated the operation from its headquarters in The Hague.

"The criminal group, who are thought to have been operating since at least 2010, facilitated the entry into the EU of Vietnamese migrants using real or forged passports, counterfeit identification and residence documents," Europe's police agency added.

Each migrant paid the gang between 10,000 to 15,000 euros (S$16,302 to S$24,454) for documents and travel into the EU, mainly to Britain, the Czech Republic, Finland, France and Poland.

Police also seized 1,750 cannabis plants valued at 1.5 million euros.

The suspects are being investigated for a range of serious offences including aggravated facilitation of illegal entry, money laundering and forgery, Europol said.