Greek police swoop on migrant traffickers

Greek police say they have arrested two Pakistani migrant traffickers operating from Turkey.

Police detained the suspects, aged 23 and 26, last Friday as they carried nine migrants from Pakistan and one from Bangladesh across a river separating Greece and Turkey.

The two suspects had just landed their small boat on the Greek side. Across the river, about 80 migrants were waiting to be transported by the same boat.

Yesterday police said the traffickers were operating out of Turkey and were previously unknown to them.

The Greek-Turkish border is a busy migrant-smuggling route. After crossing the river, migrants are crammed like sardines into cars and vans to be transported to Thessaloniki, Athens or another country.

The smuggling plots are often chaotic. Last Friday, a four-year-old Iraqi boy was killed and 27 others were injured when a van carrying migrants struck a truck while fleeing police in northern Greece. The two traffickers, including the 24-year-old Iraqi driver, were among the injured.

The van, with Bulgarian number plates, failed to stop at a police checkpoint. The driver exited the road at high speed and hit a truck about 80km east of Thessaloniki. The Greek truck driver wasn’t injured.

The migrants were from Iraq, Somalia and Bangladesh. Five of the injured were minors.

Smuggling gangs charge high fees to squeeze migrants into small vehicles at the border with Turkey and carry them to Thessaloniki, and accidents are frequent.

©Associated Press

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