9 held for smuggling, imprisoning migrants

Dealing what officials described as a major blow to the gangs that bring thousands of illegal immigrants into Greece every year, police in Attica and neighboring Viotia have arrested nine Asians suspected of running a thriving human-trafficking business. Police said yesterday that the suspects – eight Pakistanis and an Indian – belonged to two separate gangs that not only smuggled large numbers of their compatriots into the country through Turkey, but also held many of their clients in captivity to extort ransom from their relatives back home. On Wednesday, officers found a group of 27 illegal immigrants locked up in a stable near the village of Kastro in Viotia. Earlier, five men had been freed during raids in Piraeus, Peristeri and Menidi. The gang allegedly demanded 5,000-6,000 euros to free their prisoners.