Officers linked to migrant smuggling

Police in Patras were yesterday questioning three coast guard officers and a local resident believed to have been involved in a ring facilitating the smuggling of illegal immigrants from the western port to Italy and Western Europe. Police, who said they had had the officers under surveillance for some time, also suspect the involvement of a fourth official. Additionally they are probing the suspected involvement of truck drivers and others who may have been providing migrants with forged documents. Today the commander of the coast guard, vice admiral Theodoros Rentzeperis, is to chair a session of senior coast guard officials to examine the performance of the local force. Police said that dozens of would-be migrants are intercepted every week with smugglers devising increasingly imaginative ways to conceal their illegal passengers. Yesterday two illegal immigrants were found zipped into two travel bags on the back seat of a car being driven by a foreign man whose wife was in the passenger seat. The number of would-be migrants living in a makeshift camp next to the port now exceeds 4,000 and the camp is no longer manageable, authorities say.