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Greek police break up a trafficking network in Lesbos

20 November 2015 / 12:11:14  GRReporter
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The Greek intelligence service and the office for combating terrorism have broken up a trafficking network, whose members had supplied refugees and illegal immigrants with fake documents. During a secret raid, which took place yesterday, the authorities apprehended 10 people, including eight citizens of Pakistan, one of Afghanistan and one Greek woman, who is the tenth member of the network. All are detained at the police station in Lesbos and it is expected that they will appear before a prosecutor to testify. The head of the network, a Pakistani citizen, is among the detainees as well. According to sources from Lesbos, he led a lavish life, had an expensive car and other acquisitions.

The investigation found two lodgings in Mytilini, which the network members used as printing offices for fake documents as well as evidence that the network was connected with a local travel agency. It was selling ferry tickets to those refugees and migrants who obtained fake documents from the traffickers.

In the course of the investigation of the case, yesterday a police unit inspected those refugees and migrants who arrived from Lesbos at the port of Piraeus and who bought their tickets from the particular travel agency.

The operation was planned and carried out in full confidentiality. It is defined as part of a more intensive investigation to uncover jihadist networks. It is believed that the traffickers had helped 400-500 people to move to mainland Greece every day, without these people being registered and identified by the port and police authorities in the refuge centre in Moriah or elsewhere in Lesbos.

The traffickers found their "customers" among the refugees and illegal migrants who every day arrived on the island by boat from the Turkish coast. Some members of the network went to the shore and "advertised the service" to the new arrivals. Those who wished were supplied with fake official notes that postponed the extradition for a period of six months, paying 300-400 euro per person. The traffickers photographed the refugees and migrants with a digital camera and then "issued" the fake certificates using the equipment in the lodgings that were found yesterday. In some cases, they sent the fake documents by fax or email to their associates, who were in mainland Greece.

At the same time, a large number of refugees and migrants continue to gather on the Greek islands. According to the latest data of the High Commissioner for Refugees, their number is 20,000.

Indicative of the situation is the picture of Lesbos that Reuters photographer Yannis Behrakis took two days ago. It shows how refugees are trying to warm themselves by making fires in the tent camp that they had established near the registration and identification centre in Moriah. It is worth noting that there are 12,000 refugees and migrants on Lesbos whereas the reception centre can accommodate only 2,800 people.

Tags: Crime newsTrafficking networkLesvosRefugees and migrantsFake documents
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