The Joint Operational Team (JOT) Mare was lauched on the 17th of March 2015. It is an intelligence-led, European response to the development of organized criminal groups facilitating the transport of irregular migrants across the Mediterranean, hosted at Europol headquarters in The Hague. The exploitation of migrants by criminal groups is one of the reasons why there has been a growing number of fragile boats coming to the EU and, consequently, more accidents and deaths.
JOT Mare is the recognition that a more balanced strategy is required to combat this irregular migration as well as the refocusing of law enforcement resources to disrupt the organized crime involved. Criminal groups are more and more organized, shifting routes and responding quickly to law enforcement actions. 1000 deaths happened in 2015 already and the situation in 2014 has been unprecedented (see previous articles).
Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol, said on the launch: “The tragedies we have seen at sea involving migrants requires prompt and coordinated action at EU level. The launch of JOT Mare could not be more timely. Europol and our partners attach great importance to the fight against criminal groups facilitating illegal migration and will combine all available resources to provide a proactive law enforcement response.”
The Operational Team will count on Europol and Frontex intelligence resources, on the cooperation with Interpol and other platforms for cooperation among law enforcement in Europe.
Commissioner Avramopoulos praised the initiative, saying that “JOT MARE initiative is, indeed, a concrete example of how the Commission, the Agencies and the Member States can, together, do more and better to counter migrant smuggling”.
We will monitor how the initiative will pursue the fight against organized crime and keep you informed during the upcoming months.