Suspected human smugglers are believed to have arranged for the illegal arrival of Sri Lankan citizens in Finland, from where most of them have moved on to other European countries. Jukka Tekokoski, the head of the Finnish criminal investigation, says that the case involves an organisation of professionals who traffic in humans.
A joint operation of the Finnish Border Guard and the French police led to the arrest of 24 people. Six were detained in Finland, but they were later released.
Suspects include Finnish citizens of Sri Lankan origin. Their involvement is believed to have been limited to practical arrangements, such as housing and transport.
The other suspects are citizens of France and Sri Lanka. The main suspects reside in France, which is believed to have been the final destination for many. Arrests were also made in Belgium.
The Sri Lankans paid between EUR 30,000 and EUR 60,000 to the traffickers to get to Europe. One focus of the investigation is to ascertain what the illegal immigrants were expected to do to pay off their debt to the smugglers.
Some of the Sri Lankans stayed behind in Finland. There is no indication that they would have been left behind against their will. Some of them have applied for asylum in Finland.