Police in North Macedonia have arrested 10 men suspected of migrant smuggling. Migrants are regularly found crammed into trucks and cars heading through the region en route to western Europe.
On Thursday October 15 ten men were arrested in North Macedonia. The men are accused of running a smuggling ring that brought in migrants from neighboring Greece.
The Macedonian nationals, including a father and son who police say were in charge, allegedly brought at least 100 migrants from the Middle East and elsewhere into the country over a 10-month period.
The migrants had hoped to continue from North Macedonia through the Balkans to more prosperous European countries.
According to police spokesman Toni Angelovski, most of the migrants were from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iran and Egypt. Angelovski also said that all of them had previously lived in Greece.
Transit houses in four cities
The smuggling ring allegedly operated a network of transit houses in four cities, including Skopje, the North Macedonian capital. The ring allegedly charged each migrant €700 euros ($825) for the trip.
If tried and convicted, the ten suspects face sentences of up to 13 years in prison.
Trafficking networks remain active at the Greek-North Macedonian border despite it having been closed for months due to the pandemic.
Migrant smuggling a regular occurrence
Smugglers are frequently arrested in North Macedonia for trying to bring migrants into Western Europe in cars and trucks.
Earlier this month, five men were arrested for being accused of running a smuggling ring in North Macedonia. Police say they smuggled at least 100 migrants over the border from Greece towards Serbia.
In mid-August, nearly 150 people were found squeezed into two separate trucks.
And in July, a total of 567 migrants trying to transit North Macedonia without papers were detained by police. Police also arrested nine people suspected of migrant trafficking, including three Serbian nationals.
According to police, border authorities have prevented nearly 25,000 attempts by migrants to enter North Macedonia from Greece irregularly in the first nine months of this year.