Migrant smugglers made between 5-6 billion dollars last year, international police organizations said Tuesday, making it one of the most profitable criminal activities in Europe.
More than 90 per cent of migrants travelling to the European Union had their voyage facilitated mainly by criminal networks, Interpol and Europol said in the joint study.
Migrants paid on average between 3,200 dollars and 6,500 dollars each to reach and enter the EU. The report calculated the yearly turnover of migrants smugglers by multiplying these figures by the more than 1 million people who reached European shores illegally in 2015.
Interpol and Europol, in the first such study of human smuggling focused on Europe aimed at providing guidance to law enforcement, warned that smuggling rings also provided an opportunity for potential terrorists.
Two of the attackers in the November 13 attacks in Paris entered the EU through Greece, along the route used by refugees from Syria.
An increase in the number of migrants trying to reach the EU is expected, the international police organizations said.
In Libya alone, some 800,000 migrants are waiting for a chance to travel to Europe, the report said.
Interpol chief Juergen Stock said the report provided "insight into migrant smugglers and their criminal networks which profit from human despair."
He called for coordinated international action, saying that "while Europe may be the destination for these migrants, the crisis cannot be resolved by police and policy-makers in the region alone."