Migrant tide is stemmed

BEIRUT (AP) – Lebanon’s interior minister yesterday announced the arrest of 19 members of a major illegal immigrant smuggling network operating between Lebanon and Europe, with Greece and Cyprus as its main destinations. Interior Minister Elias Murr, speaking after meeting with the ambassadors of France, Germany, Italy and Greece, said the network members – 17 Lebanese and two Syrians – were arrested in Lebanon following an 18-month investigation in cooperation with the European Union. «We built together a security group comprising officers from the Lebanese internal security forces and officers from the European police and Interpol,» Murr told reporters. «Over the past year and a half, we have worked to uncover the biggest illegal immigrant smuggling network which was worrying Europe… We can say today that the international mafia, which was working in the illegal smuggling of immigrants, has been broken in Lebanon.» From Lebanon, immigrants – mostly Kurds – travel by boat to Cyprus, Greece and Italy.