On Saturday, July 18, Greek authorities announced that they had arrested six suspects involved with trafficking migrants from Greece to Italy, using sailboats to cross the border.
According to officials, members of the trafficking ring had bought at least four sailboats, all of them being 10 to 15 meters (32 to 49 feet) in length and capable of carrying a minimum of 15 migrants. The boats had been registered under fake Bulgarian identities.
The trafficking ring is estimated to have been active since June of 2019, with suspects moving the sailboats around various Greek marinas in order to remain undetected by police.
One of the individuals was arrested on Friday, July 17, just offshore from the Greek island of Corfu, which is the area closest to the Italian mainland. The suspect was found by authorities operating a sailboat carrying 23 migrants, en route to the country.
At least three trips to Italy, including Friday’s expedition, have been discovered by officials, with speculation that there may have been additional trips taking place during the operation.
Members of the trafficking ring transport migrants to Corfu in groups of three or four either through car or bus in order to avoid suspicion, later lodging them at local hotels. A fee of 5,500 euros ($6,280) must be paid for the trip, according to Greek police.
Officials are still searching for five additional suspects also involved with the trafficking ring.