Slovenian police and health workers approach a driver for questioning at the Slovenian-Italian border crossing of Fernetici, Slovenia | Photo: EPA/Igor Kupljenik
Slovenian police and health workers approach a driver for questioning at the Slovenian-Italian border crossing of Fernetici, Slovenia | Photo: EPA/Igor Kupljenik

Seven human traffickers arrested as migrant numbers increase along the Balkan Route and police step up controls.

Police stopped 257 migrants in a huge operation that took place in recent days between Ljubljana and Novo Mesto, while another 35 migrants were stopped in the Slovene coastal region during routine border inspections. The Ljubljana central police said in a statement that since Tuesday, August 18 in the evening, special canine units, along with drones and state border agents, were at work concluding seven different operations in areas of Ljubljana and the capital of southeastern Slovenia, along roads that lead to the borders with Italy and Croatia.

The statement said the goal of the operations was to prevent and to detect illegal border crossings in the areas with the highest traffic.

Migrants found in baggage areas

During operations, seven people were arrested and charged with human trafficking, aggravated by the hardship they inflicted upon the migrants, some of whom were found in the baggage storage areas or near the mechanical parts of the cars, suffering serious respiratory difficulties.

In an inspection in Metlica Nature Park, a group of nine Afghan citizens were found to have entered Slovenia on foot. Then, with the help of an Afghan and a Cuban, the group boarded two private vehicles with Italian license plates in order to reach Italy.

Recently, migrant numbers have increased along the so-called Balkan Route. In 2015, this route saw the crossing of more than a million refugees headed towards Western Europe.Figures released by Slovenian security forces show an increase in illegal crossings over the past two months compared to the same period last year. The increase coincides with the resumption of movement following restrictions due to coronavirus.

Since the start of the year until now, a total of 8,762 migrants without papers have been stopped, 40% fewer than the same period in 2019; but figures from the past two months nevertheless show a marked increase. The majority of the migrants are citizens from Pakistan, Morocco, and Afghanistan.

 

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