Police in southwestern Germany have discovered seven young migrants inside a truck, four of them minors. The stowaways were from Afghanistan.
A motorist driving on national highway 6 in the southwestern German state of Rhineland-Pfalz called police last Thursday (April 8) after he kept seeing people's arms stretched out from under the canvas of a truck driving in front of him, according to a police press release.
When they stopped the truck police discovered seven people hidden among the cargo. They stowaways said they were from Afghanistan and requested asylum, police said.
While their identity and age could not be immediately confirmed, police said they believed the people concerned were between 15 and 20 years of age and unaccompanied. The four presumed minors were handed over to the youth welfare office.
Police said they provisionally detained the 39-year-old driver on suspicion of migrant smuggling. On Friday a district court said the driver was from Romania and issued an arrest warrant at the request of the local public prosecutor.
According to the public prosecutor, the driver said he was unaware of the human freight in the cargo bay of his truck.
Series of migrant smuggling cases
Smugglers are frequently arrested inside and outside the EU for trying to bring migrants into western Europe in cars and trucks:
- Last month, Italian police found six Afghan citizens in a truck. A smuggler had allegedly hidden them in the bed of the truck without the driver's knowledge.
- In late February, Slovenian police discovered 13 migrants at risk of suffocation hidden inside a truck.
- In mid-February, Italian police arrested a total of five alleged people-smugglers in two separate cases.
- In early February, Italian authorities reported more cases of Afghan minors entering the country hidden inside cargo trucks coming from the Balkans.
- In late January, the ringleaders of a human smuggling group were handed prison terms for their involvement in a plot that led to the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants. Their bodies were found in a truck outside London in October 2019.
- Also in late January, German police discovered six Afghan migrants inside a Bulgarian lorry in in southern Germany.
- Last October, 15 men were arrested for suspected migrant smuggling in North Macedonia in two separate cases.
- In mid-August, nearly 150 people were found squeezed into two separate trucks in North Macedonia.
- Last 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 smuggling, including three Serbian nationals.