Greece makes more arrests in people smuggling cases

11th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Greek police said Tuesday they arrested more people in what appeared to be linked cases of people smuggling of Afghan migrants to Italy by chartered jets.

After arresting five people, who allegedly tried to smuggle 15 Afghans with fake identifications to Italy aboard chartered air taxis near the northeastern city of Kavala, police on Monday intercepted five Afghans about to board a small Italian jet bound for Rome.

The five -- two couples and a child -- were detained in the northwestern city of Ioannina, carrying false Danish identity papers, police said in a statement.

Investigators earlier arrested their suspected smuggler at the airport -- a 19-year-old Italian woman employed by a Paris-based travel agency who had accompanied the Afghans by coach from Athens.

Police also seized the plane which had been chartered by the French agency in Milan for 11,600 euros (15,000 dollars). Its two pilots were being questioned.

The Afghans held in Kavala on Friday were originally headed for the Italian port city of Genoa.

Among the five suspected smugglers arrested in Kavala was another Italian employee of the Paris travel agency.

Under European Union rules, Greece is obliged to prevent would-be migrants and asylum seekers found on its territory from travelling to other EU states.

Most smugglers caught in Greece employ trucks and speedboats to bring their human cargo to the European continent, but increased vigilance on the part of the authorities has forced them to also use alternative methods such as luxury yachts and travel trailers.

© 2011 AFP

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