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People smuggling ring uncovered at Helsinki Airport

Police suspect an international criminal gang has been trafficking people from mainland Europe to Britain via Finland.

File photo of Helsinki-Vantaa airport. Image: Eleni Paspatis / Yle

A gang suspected of smuggling people from mainland Europe to Britain was uncovered in January when a Swedish citizen and a Kuwaiti citizen were stopped by border guards at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport in possession of another Swedish citizen’s passport.

The two men were on their way from Paris to London via Helsinki, according to a statement issued by the Finnish Border Guard.

The Guard’s Crime Prevention Unit launched a preliminary investigation, and discovered that the Swedish man had visited Finland on at least two previous occasions. He is now suspected of smuggling two other people from Finland to Britain between December and January using other people's passports.

Police suspect the involvement of a people smuggling ring active in at least Sweden and the United Kingdom.

They believe the smugglers charge up to 8,000 euros per person transported from mainland Europe through various countries to the United Kingdom.

The initial investigation also revealed that the Swedish citizen stopped in Finland had applied for asylum in the United Kingdom as a Kuwaiti, providing false personal information to the UK authorities.

The false identity used by the suspect in Britain was revealed when his fingerprints were compared to the fingerprints of another Kuwaiti person, and they were found to be exactly the same. Authorities suspect the man created a false identity for himself in order to gain access to a disguise for people smuggling activities.

International cooperation

During the investigation, close international cooperation was established between Finnish authorities and police forces in other parts of Europe, with the support of Europol and Eurojust, an EU agency which oversees judicial cooperation between member states.

Authorities in both Sweden and Britain conducted home searches of suspected members of the smuggling ring and made a number of arrests.

The investigation into the Swedish citizen arrested and imprisoned in Finland since the end of January is continuing. Once the report is ready it will be sent to the prosecutor for consideration of any possible charges.