Ring of migrant traffickers busted in western Greece

A migrant-trafficking outfit using boats to smuggle migrants from Greece into Italy was uncovered by the Greek police and coast guard on Tuesday, leading to the arrest of four suspected migrant traffickers and 34 illegal migrants in Messolonghi.   Acting on a tip-off, police spotted a vessel in the region of Kryoneri that they considered a likely means for transporting migrants and started following it. At some point, they sighted four vehicles approaching the craft from the beach at Kryoneri carrying migrants, who later boarded the vessel.

    As soon as the boat set sail, the coast guard stepped in and set up an operation to locate it. It was sighted a short while later by coast guard vessels from Patras and Messolonghi near the island Oxia and then led ashore and searched. On board, authorities found a 25-year-old Ukrainian captain, a 24-year-old Iraqi accomplice and 44 foreign nationals. Of these, 34 were arrested for illegal entry and residence in Greece.

    A police investigation revealed that the 44 foreigners had been transported to Kryoneri from Athens in order to board a boat bound for Italy, each paying 2,500 euro for their passage.

    In addition to the above, police working with the coast guard successfully intercepted 36 migrants on the Astakos-Mytikas road at Astakos in Aitoloakarnania. The migrants had been taken there in a freight truck from Athens, again in order to board a boat bound for Italy, this time paying the sum of 3,000 euro each.

    The driver of the truck managed to get away and 15 of the 36 foreign nationals were arrested for illegal entry and residence in Greece.

    All the migrants arrested are being held pending their deportation.

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