The District Prosecutor’s Office in Suwałki (Podlaskie Voivodeship) filed an indictment against nine persons accused of participating in an organized criminal group. The defendants were supposed to transport foreigners who illegally crossed the Polish border from Belarus. They used buses that looked like ambulances.
The investigation began with the arrest in early November 2021 in Olecko of a car that looked like an ambulance. The driver and the man sitting next to him were wearing protective anti-covid suits. However, instead of patients, there were 18 Iraqi citizens inside the ambulance who illegally crossed the Polish-Belarusian border.
The prosecutor’s office informed that after the initiation of the investigation, it turned out that a few days earlier another fake ambulance had been stopped in Bielsk Podlaski. It was also there that two Poles from towns near Warsaw transported five Iraqi citizens who illegally crossed the Polish border.
Four Poles were detained and then, at the request of the prosecutor’s office, temporarily arrested. It was established that both ambulances were bought by the same man, so both cases were combined into one investigation, which was conducted by the Provincial Police Headquarters in Białystok under the supervision of the District Prosecutor’s Office in Suwałki.
The prosecutor’s office determined that the group made at least 10 transports between September and early November 2021. Each time, several foreigners were transported, except for the case from Olecko, where as many as 18 of them were transported at a time. Ambulances were used three times to transport foreigners, but also buses and even a tow truck, on which a damaged car with foreigners was transported. Passenger cars were mostly used to pilot the transports.
The investigation materials show that transport orders were sent to a Polish citizen living in Great Britain. The prosecutor charged a total of 15 people, of which 11 people were temporarily arrested. For some, detention was changed into non-custodial measures, such as bail and police supervision.
Seven persons, including one woman, were charged with participation in an organized criminal group and carrying out transports. The owner of the ambulances and a Polish woman living in Great Britain were charged with leading an organized criminal group.
Two other men were charged with money laundering by accepting remittances from abroad on their personal data as payment for shipments and transferring them to the head of the group.
The ambulance, which was detained in Olecko, was handed over by the prosecutor to the hospital in this city at the beginning of the investigation. The second ambulance stopped in Bielsk Podlaski due to exploitation was destroyed.
Facilitating the organization of border crossing as part of an organized criminal group is punishable by up to 12 years in prison.
Main photo source: Warmian-Masurian Police