Serbia arrests 17 alleged human traffickers

AP News
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Posted: Nov 22, 2011 8:06 AM
Serbia arrests 17 alleged human traffickers

Serbian police have arrested 17 people suspected of trafficking hundreds of illegal immigrants from Africa and Asia toward western Europe.

The arrests were made Tuesday in raids in several towns across the Balkan nation, police said. They said they found weapons, drugs and money, and confiscated several cars while searching the suspects' homes.

The men have made illegal gains of more than euro100,000 ($135,000) each, police added.

Also Tuesday, border officials found 12 illegal migrants attempting to cross into Serbia from Macedonia. The two Afghans and 10 Somalis were hiding in a truck with Macedonian registration plates, customs officials said.

Serbia and the rest of the Balkans are one of the main transit routes for migrants seeking to reach the 27-nation European Union. Officials say immigrants most often are trafficked north to Hungary, an EU member.

Many of the immigrants have sought asylum in Serbia, flooding its centers for asylum seekers. Serbia has promised to curb organized crime as it seeks to move closer to becoming an EU member.