A search-and-rescue operation off the coast of Crete earlier this week led Greek authorities to uncover a major migrant-trafficking ring that brought irregular migrants and refugees from North Africa to Europe via Greece, the Greek police announced on Thursday.
A number of foreign nationals, aged between 28 and 40 years old, have been charged in connection with the case, including one man that was already in prison.
Authorities were first alerted to the ring’s activities after a boatload of irregular migrants were rescued from a vessel in distress during bad weather last Tuesday. Among them were two foreign nationals aged 28 and 31, respectively, who were identified as migrant traffickers and arrested.
An investigation carried out by the police and coast guard in Crete led to the arrest of a third foreign national, aged 40, based on evidence that all three were part of an international migrant trafficking operation that has operating since at least 2016.
Based on the findings of the police investigation, the ring operated in the Southeast Mediterranean and arranged for irregular migrants to be brought from Libya to Crete by ship, from where they were taken to various countries in Europe. Each adult migrant paid 2,000 dollars for his or her passage.