The smugglers are told that it is easier than ever to come to Europe. This is also reflected in the number of seizures. In 2022, 712 people smugglers were arrested in Austria – around 61 percent more than in 2021, said Interior Minister Gerhard Karner (ÖVP) on Tuesday at a press conference in Vienna. In 2021, 441 people smugglers were caught in Austria, in 2020 there were 311 and also before the corona pandemic with 242 in 2019 significantly fewer. Only in 2015 was there more, with 1,108 people smugglers arrested. “Every tractor taken out of service means saving lives,” said Karner.
Karner and Gerald Tatzgern, head of the central office for combating human smuggling at the Federal Criminal Police Office and head of the department for return at the Ministry of the Interior, Elisabeth Wenger-Donig, presented the 2022 smuggling report. According to Tatzgern, more than 100,000 people were smuggled to Austria last year.
The most recent attacks – like in early April in Carinthia, where 35 refugees were crammed into a truck for 70 hours and were already hypothermic and “threatening to suffocate” – show “the brutality of the trafficking mafia once again,” said Karner. The smugglers don’t care about the people. “It must not spoil the goods” is the motto of the smugglers, so “people’s lives are being talked about,” said Tatzgern. According to him, in 2022 there were four fatalities among those who were dragged.
Karner confirmed that resolute action would continue to be taken against the brutal smuggler mafia. The Minister of the Interior relies on border point controls and border area controls both nationally and internationally. “An important signal is the deportation and repatriation,” said Karner. In 2022, “nearly 13,000 deportations were carried out,” the minister reported. Around 40 percent were forced to leave the country, 60 percent of those affected left the country voluntarily.