British investigators helped to disrupt a gang smuggling refugees across the Mediterranean, the National Crime Agency has said.
The group is believed to have charged refugees up to €5,000 (£4,500) to be trafficked across the sea from Egypt to the Greek island of Crete.
They would then be transported on journeys across Europe and sometimes into the UK.
Six suspected gang members aged between 23 and 49 were arrested during a series of raids in Crete on Monday, the NCA said.
The network is said to have shown little regard for the safety of the refugees and is suspected of being responsible for circumstances leading to 60 people being rescued off the coast of Crete in an unseaworthy vessel in May.
The NCA, which leads people-smuggling task force Invigor, said the men faced prosecution in Greece for allegedly arranging accommodation and transportation of refugees, while providing them with false documents.
Members of a linked group were arrested in March last year when more than 100 refugees were found being held in caves and abandoned farm buildings, according to the NCA.
“The kind of people-smuggling networks we see operating in the Mediterranean represent a huge risk to the lives of those they transport,” Chris Hogben, the head of Invigor, said.
“These criminal gangs treat migrants as a commodity to be profited out of – they don’t care about keeping them in horrendous conditions or using completely unsuitable or unseaworthy vessels to move them hundreds of miles across the sea.”