The Latest: Greek police arrest 5 for migrant smuggling

AP News
Posted: Jun 26, 2016 5:27 PM
The Latest: Greek police arrest 5 for migrant smuggling

MADRID (AP) — The Latest on Europe's migration crisis (all times local):

9:30 p.m.

Greek police report that five people have been arrested in two separate operations in the Greek city of Thessaloniki for planning to assist a total of 53 migrants in illegally crossing Greece's northern border with Macedonia.

In the first operation, 18 migrants from Syria and Afghanistan were to be transported in two passenger cars to an undisclosed location in Macedonia. The drivers of the two cars and two other individuals who were to follow in a third car were to be paid 1,000 euros ($1,100) each.

An intercity bus driver was also arrested Sunday for attempting to carry 35 migrants from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan to the border, an hour's drive from Thessaloniki, at 50 euros ($55) each. They were to cross the border themselves.

Attempts at illegal border crossings have increased recently.


7:40 p.m.

The Italian coast guard says it has coordinated the rescue of 3,324 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, as Libya-based smugglers exploited a spell of good weather and calm seas to launch boats full of migrants toward Italian shores.

The coast guard says the migrants were saved Sunday in an area 35 miles (55 kilometers) north of the Libyan coastal town of Sabratha. The rescues involved migrants on 25 rubber dinghies and one boat.

Last week, thousands of migrants were rescued off Libya, including some 5,000 in one day, after a period of rough seas had thwarted the smugglers from launching boats from North Africa. Most of the recently rescued migrants have come from Africa.


6 p.m.

Serbia's state television says a truck carrying 29 migrants has overturned, injuring many.

The report says the accident happened midday Sunday in southern Serbia. It says six people with serious injuries have been transferred to a hospital in the southern city of Nis.

Serbian police have confirmed the accident without revealing details. The state TV report says most migrants were from Afghanistan and fled the scene along with the driver.

Many migrants have been turning to smugglers to get through the Balkan countries since the traditional refugee route into Western Europe closed in March. The migrants fleeing war and poverty want to reach the wealthy nations of the European Union, but many nations have shut down their borders.


4:30 p.m.

Up to 30 migrants from Africa have reached the Spanish border town of Melilla after climbing the fence that separates the European country from neighboring Morocco in North Africa.

The ones that made it all the way to the local immigrant center on Sunday chanted "Victory!" Up to 90 other migrants were unable to get over the high fence and were returned to Morocco by Spanish authorities.

Along with Ceuta, another Spanish enclave surrounded by Morocco, Melilla is often the scene of desperate migrant arrivals from regions south of the Sahara desert.

The Spanish government reinforced its border patrols in 2016, after thousands were able to reach European soil in previous years, either by swimming along the coast to the enclaves or by climbing the border fence.