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Greek Cops Team with Europol, Bust Big Migrant Smuggling Ring

ATHENS – As Greece is trying to keep out more refugees and migrants, police and the Europol agency worked together in an operation said to have taken apart a major human smuggling ring in the northern part of the country.

The Hellenic Police (ELAS) said the racket was operating since September, 2021 to sneak migrants across the land border with Turkey, which has been allowing smugglers to operate during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.

Five suspected members of the gang were arrested, said Kathimerini, including two Iraqi nationals, 47, and 52, believed to be the ringleader and money handler.

A long police investigation found that the ring charged 2000-3000 euros ($2198-$3298) to ferry the migrants across the treacherous Evros River, where scores have drowned over the past six years trying to get into Greece.

They were then taken to the port city of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest by care or van and charge more if they wanted to get into central or northern Europe which closed its borders to them.

Greece is holding almost 100,000 refugees and migrants in detention centers and camps, including on five islands near the coast of Turkey where many depart after reaching that country in flight from their homelands to escape war, strife and economic hardship, Turkey supposed to hold them.

Investigators have reportedly gathered evidence linking the suspects to at least seven smuggling operations, the report said, adding that there wree raids on properties tied to the two main suspects.

Those were supposed to have turned up 22,000 euros ($24,183) in cash, a raft of bank cards, travel documents, cell phones and SIM cards that forensic experts were examining for evidence.

 

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