NEWS

Crime ring smuggled migrants

Police in Cyprus said yesterday they had broken a ring that smuggled illegal immigrants from the Middle East into the country through the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island. Cyprus’s deputy police chief, Sotiris Haralambous, said detectives were seeking a Lebanese national, who also holds Cypriot nationality, suspected of heading the gang that is believed to have smuggled over 500 people onto the island. According to Haralambous, the ring charged between $2,000-2,500 to bring Asian migrants to Cyprus. The clandestine westward journey started in Lebanon, from where the illegal migrants were taken by bus to Istanbul, traveling through Syria. From Istanbul, they took flights to the airport of Lefkonikos in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus, where they stayed in a hotel for a few days until the ring could supply them with forged papers identifying them as Turkish-Cypriots. After crossing the Green Line at Strovilia or Pergamos, the migrants headed for Paphos where they would apply for political asylum. Four migrants have been arrested.