Swiss police have charged five people in connection with extensive people smuggling operations.
Three men living in canton Bern are accused of having illegally transported or organised the smuggling of over 90 people in at least 30 cases between June 2017 and April 2019, according to a Bern police press releaseexternal link on Wednesday. Two other people – a woman living in canton Bern and a man residing in Germany -- are also suspected of involvement.
Those smuggled were mostly adults from the Middle East who were picked up in northern Italy and then transported illegally across the border into Switzerland, or via Switzerland to Germany or Austria, using private or company vehicles.
“It can be assumed that the journeys were planned in advance and financially compensated afterwards,” says the press release.
This comes after months of investigations, according to Bern police. The five people were identified partly on the basis of findings from a smuggling case in Austria, where connections were established to canton Bern.
The three main defendants were detained in April 2019 “as part of targeted action” and are still in custody. All five accused persons face legal proceedings for promoting illegal entry, exit and residence under the Foreign Nationals and Integration Actexternal link.