Border police officers in Trieste during an operation close to the border with Slovenia | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA
Border police officers in Trieste during an operation close to the border with Slovenia | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA

Authorities in Slovenia, Italy, Bosnia and Croatia have dismantled an organization that allegedly smuggled migrants from the Balkans to EU countries like Italy.

Investigators said that the criminal group included at least 10 suspects -- four Slovenians, five Serbians and one Croatian citizen -- at a press conference in Koper, Slovenia, on Monday 

The criminal organization that they were allegedly part of smuggled at least 150 undocumented migrants from the Balkans to EU countries Italy, Croatia and Slovenia. The migrants were reportedly mainly Syrian, Iraqi, Eritrean and Afghan citizens. 

The suspects were charged with aiding and abetting illegal immigration by authorities in Slovenia. Some of the suspects also face arms and drugs possession charges. 

Gang allegedly made 450,00 euros 

Members of the alleged criminal group are suspected of illegally transporting migrants to Italy in at least 24 cases, investigators said. Weapons and drugs were also seized in search operations carried out in Slovenia as part of the investigation.

Police sources said migrants paid between 1,500 and 3,000 euros to the traffickers. According to Slovenian pof, the gang earned an estimated 450,000 euros through people smuggling. 

Investigation kicked off by arrest 

The network was uncovered through a joint investigation conducted by police in Italy, Slovania, Bosnia and Croatia, with the help of Europol. 

The investigation began after the arrest of a man in Trieste last summer, according to police. The man, a Slovenian citizen, was arrested in downtown Trieste after a car chase that started at the border crossing, said Italian border police chief Giuseppe Colasanto. Three undocumented Iraqi migrants were hidden in the car the man was driving, Colasanto said during the press conference on Monday. The suspect is currently being detained in Trieste, Colasanto said. 
 

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