Greece Busts Migrant Trafficking Ring; Dozens of Humanitarian Workers Accused

Migrants and asylum seekers are moved into a new camp on the Greek island of Lesvos. Credit: Greek Government

The Greek police announced on Monday that they had busted a huge trafficking ring which was assisting migrants and asylum seekers to cross illegally into the country from the Turkish coast.

Police say that they identified 35 suspects — among them 33 members of various foreign Non-Governmental Organizations who were implicated in the crime.

The complaint says that criminal charges will be filed against the suspects, on offenses ranging from forming and joining a criminal organization, espionage, and violation of state secrets, to violations of the Immigration Code.

According to the police, an undercover investigation was conducted on Lesvos, where tens of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers have been crossing into Greece in recent years.

The investigation was carried out in collaboration with the National Intelligence Service (EYP) and the assistance of the Counter-Terrorism Service.

Police charge that the ring provided substantial assistance to organized illegal immigration rings in at least 35 cases since June of 2019.

The authorities explained that under the pretext of humanitarian action, it provided, through closed internet chat rooms and other applications, information and confidential information, such as:

– The places on the Turkish coast where migrants could assemble and the time of departure to the island of Lesvos;

– The number of foreign nationals aboard the boats and the prevailing situation during the voyage;

– The final destination of the boat;

– Details for their accommodation at the Moria camp, now destroyed by fires.

In addition, the suspects are accused of hindering the operational work of the vessels of the Hellenic Coast Guard through the use of specific mobile telephone applications.