NEWS

Greek link in huge EU human-trafficking ring

Three people were arrested in Greece yesterday after authorities broke up one of the largest illegal immigrant-smuggling rackets in Europe in a five-country police operation. A total of 53 people were arrested – 22 of them in France, 18 in Italy, seven in Britain, three in Turkey and the three in Greece. The raids were carried out by 400 officers working under Interpol and Europol coordination. The gang made millions of euros trafficking more than 5,000 people through Turkey and Greece to Italy’s Adriatic coast on boats or squeezed onto trucks that arrived by ferry. Authorities were investigating whether profits from the trafficking had been sent back to the Middle East to fund terrorist groups. «It is one of the most important, if not the most important, operation dismantling clandestine immigration networks in France,» said French prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin in Paris. Greek police did not comment on the arrests. Meanwhile, interior ministers from Greece, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey met in Athens yesterday to decide on how to step up the fight against the smuggling of people. The ministers also talked about joint action on drug trafficking and organized crime. «We discussed ways to better handle the wave of immigration as well as improve the lives of immigrants living in Greece,» said Greek Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos. Similar meetings will take place in Turkey, Pakistan and Iran.