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Migrant smuggling 'mastermind' arrested in Liverpool

Published 02/12/2015

Jamal Owda was arrested following dawn raids across Europe
Jamal Owda was arrested following dawn raids across Europe

A man suspected of heading a huge people smuggling operation that earned nearly £7 million has been arrested in Liverpool.

The National Crime Agency said Palestinian national Jamal Owda, 26, was one of 23 people arrested following dawn raids across Europe.

Owda, who was detained after "moving from country to country" is said to have been the alleged ringleader of the group responsible for smuggling thousands of migrants into Europe.

Around 100 Syrian migrants are believed to have been brought into western Europe from Greece each day since operations started in 2013.

Europol, which helped co-ordinate the raids, said that the gang was believed to have profited to the tune of nearly £7m.

Other suspects were detained in simultaneous police operations in Greece, Austria and Sweden, and included mainly Syrians and Greeks.

Owda was arrested at an asylum seekers' shelter in Greenbank Drive, Sephton Park, Liverpool.

He will appear at Westminster Magistrates Court tomorrow morning.

NCA operations manager Graham Roberts said: "As a result of joint working with the Greek authorities we have located and arrested a man believed to be the head of a crime group responsible for smuggling around 100 Syrian migrants a day from Greece into western Europe.

"Palestinian national Jamal Owda, who we suspect was moving from country to country to evade capture, was apprehended on a European Arrest Warrant in Liverpool and now faces extradition to Greece.

"The NCA-led UK taskforce targeting people smuggling networks was involved in this operation and will continue to work with agencies in the UK and overseas to identify networks, pursue them, disrupt their activities, take away their money and their assets, and wherever possible prosecute them."

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