Cabbies ‘led’ ring of Balkan traffickers

Two Thessaloniki taxi drivers, aged 51 and 53, were yesterday in police detention as the suspected leaders of one of the biggest human-trafficking rings ever to have operated in the Balkans. Officers said they intercepted the two suspects near the overpass in the city’s Stavroupoli district, just as they had been about to collect eight illegal immigrants of Chinese origin with the aim of transferring them to Athens. According to Tryfonas Koukios, the head of the local police immigration unit, the 51-year-old is the head of «the largest immigrant smuggling operation in the Balkans.» Koukios said his officers had worked closely with their counterparts in Belgrade and Skopje to monitor the activities of the ring, which is believed to have worked chiefly with Chinese migrants flown from Beijing to Belgrade via Moscow and then transferred by road to Greece.