Dutch arrest two Syrians for smuggling hundreds into Europe
Dutch officials have arrested two Syrian nationals accused of organising a huge trafficking network smuggling hundreds of migrants into Europe, prosecutors said Friday.
The two men, arrested in the southern city of Eindhoven after a year-long probe, brought refugees from Turkey by boat into Europe, prosecutors told AFP.
Migrants paid some 7,000 euros (8,000 dollars) for the risky crossing across the Mediterranean, arriving in Greece and Italy.
From there for a further 700 euros each, the refugees could pay to be driven by private cars or mini-buses to northern European countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Sweden.
As the flow of refugees grew in past months, the price doubled to 1,500 euros each, the Dutch prosecution service said in a statement.
The 35-year-old main suspect, who was staying with a cousin in Eindhoven, had a huge contact list of thousands people, and "organised shipments and arranged cars and drivers to transport refugees," prosecutors said.
Safe-houses were found in Milan, Athens, Vienna and Budapest where the migrants could stay as they waited to move deeper into the continent.
The refugees had to pay for most of their passage in advance in cash, which was then transferred by an underground banker to the Netherlands. The rest was given to their driver once they reached Europe.
The 26-year-old nephew of the main suspect was in charge among other things of recruiting refugees in Hungary and Austria.
Both were arrested last Friday, and police also seized a trove of computers and mobile phones, as well as identity papers.
The main suspect was also in regular contact with a third man, aged 27, who was arrested in Budapest earlier this month.
© 2015 AFP