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Migrant Smuggling in Europe is Now Worth Billions

The business of smuggling migrants from Afghanistan and the Middle East into the European Union has grown larger than the illicit trade in drugs and weapons. There are 200 smuggling rings in Greece and smugglers have spread to Bulgaria, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia.

Smugglers gather at the Budapest Keleti train station, offering rides for Migrants to Austria for hundreds of dollars. However, 71 migrants were abandoned by their smugglers and found suffocated in the back of a sealed truck along an Austrian highway. Besides that, 24 Afghan migrants were rescued by the police from a sealed truck in the streets of Vienna. These migrants would have been dead if left alone for an hour longer. Another group of smugglers promised rides to the Austrian border and placed the migrants in the back of a windowless van and left them at a suburban shopping center. Some were abandoned in the woods, while others were robbed and left on remote roadsides. Only a handful of migrants with a lot of money were able to get a forged passport or a stolen ID card with a visa and a plane ticket to a chosen European country. Although there are lots of taxis willing to take migrants from Hungary to Austria for 1000 Euros, only those who are lucky actually get there.

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Melissa Flemming, the chief spokeswoman for the United Nation’s refugee agency, mentions that smugglers are able to commit mass murders without punishment. Smugglers are usually local organized crime groups that use this opportunity to make money. They hire Afghan or Syrian representatives to act as agents on the ground and contact potential customers. There is also a growth of the smuggling operation online, with online advertisements written in Arabic.


Janice Tjeng is a fourth year Biology major at the University of San Francisco. She is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine. She looks forward to applying to medical school where she can learn the skills to provide healthcare for disadvantaged people.



Lyman, Rick and Smale, Alison “Migrant Smuggling in Europe is Now Worth Billions.” The New York Times, September 3 2015. Date accessed, September 5 2015.

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