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Finnish Coast Guard uncovers major people smuggling operation

Officials believe that the operation smuggled undocumented migrants in Greece to Finland and other parts of Europe.

Helsinki-Vantaan lentokentän passintarkastusautomaatteja.
Passport scanners at Helsinki Airport where a suspected courier for the operation was apprehended in late October. Image: Kalevi Rytkölä / Yle

The Gulf of Finland Coast Guard District says it has uncovered an organised criminal group engaged in an international people smuggling operation.

According to a Coast Guard release, the group consists mainly of people residing in Finland and Greece who are now suspected of organising and attempting to organize illicit travel for undocumented migrants into Finland and other countries in Europe.

The investigation began in mid-July, when Estonian police notified the Finnish Border Guard of a person presenting a forged British passport at Tallinn Airport. Documents referring to Finland had been found on the person in question.

The Crime Prevention Unit of the Gulf of Finland Coast Guard and the Estonian authorities identified a permanent resident of Finland who was said to have supplied the forged passport to the individual apprehended in Tallinn, and accompanied that individual from Helsinki to Tallinn Airport.

“As a result of the investigation of the case, a criminal league operating at least in Finland and Greece, and operating since at least the autumn of 2019, was uncovered which organises forged Finnish and British passports for illegal entry,” the press release says.

According to the Coast Guard, couriers traveling between Finland and Greece delivered passports to members of the group.

Several arrests

In late October, a person suspected of belonging to the gang was detained at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Several Finnish passports and residence permits, a Finnish identity card and health services card were found in the possession of the suspect, as well as hidden in structural components of their luggage.

The suspect is believed to have been transporting documents to Greece for forgery and use in illegal entry.

"Some of these documents found in the person's possession had been reported as stolen, but some are suspected of having been sold to the group," Jukka Tekokoski of the Gulf of Finland Coast Guard Crime Prevention Unit stated in the Thursday release.

According to investigators, several people have been arrested and detained, and a number of home searches have been carried out in various parts of Helsinki.

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