From file: Greek Police officers detain migrants without legal residence permits in Athens
| Photo: Dimitris Aspiotis/Pacific Press
From file: Greek Police officers detain migrants without legal residence permits in Athens | Photo: Dimitris Aspiotis/Pacific Press

Greek police on the island of Rhodes announced on Monday that they arrested four suspected migrant smugglers. Another three people allegedly connected to their smuggling network were arrested in Athens.

The smuggling suspects were arrested as part of a wider operation into an alleged criminal organization, which is suspected of smuggling migrants to the island of Rhodes, reported the Greek newspaper Ekathimerini.

The four people are suspected to come originally from Lebanon, Egypt and Syria. Police allege that the group would pick up migrants from the beaches and transport them to hotels in Rhodes by car. The alleged smugglers would then reportedly give the migrants forged or stolen documents, according to Ekathimerini, to help them continue their journey to other European countries.

Greek police say that the group was working together with smugglers in Turkey. The group of four have already appeared before a Greek prosecutor, wrote Ekathimerini. Police reportedly arrested three additional people in Athens connected to the group, they are reported to be two Syrians and one Palestinian. One of them had already been arrested in October 2021 for "similar offenses," according to Ekathimerini.

Europol operation

The Greek police regularly arrest and try and break up smuggling organizations. In December 2021, Athens police reported they had dismantled a group specializing in forged travel documents and identity fraud.

In February 2022, the European police agency Europol announced that it had been working in cooperation with German and Greek police to break up a criminal network which was alleged to be smuggling migrants from Greece to Germany.

In that operation, German authorities raided houses in four locations and found "a number of ID documents in the house of the main suspect," according to a Europol press release. In this case, the group was said to consist "predominantly of Syrian nationals." They were thought to be smuggling migrants via flights from Athens to destinations across Germany.

Most of the migrants smuggled in this case were also of Syrian origin. They are thought to have paid between €3,500 and €4,500 for their journeys.

 

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