Croatia and Bosnia break up a human smuggling network, while Serbia discovers more and more illegal migrants.
Police agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina arrested on Wednesday six people as part of a larger police operation which aims to break up networks which transfer migrants from the territory of Turkey and Syria to Croatia and other European Union countries, confirmed the Bosnian Prosecutor’s Office which coordinates the investigation, report 24sata.hr and index.hr on March 22, 2017.
The operation, which is conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the code name “Bosphorus”, is part of coordinated international activities. The targets are people who organize smuggling of migrants from crisis areas to Western Europe and charge them large sums of money. The prosecution and the police have evidence that this network has so far smuggled through Bosnia and Herzegovina dozens of illegal migrants. In addition to Bosnia and Herzegovina, they were transferred to the European Union and Croatia through Montenegro.
The Prosecutor’s Office said that the operation Bosphorus was conducted in close collaboration with judicial and police authorities of Croatia. In Bosnia, search activities were conducted at six locations, while police in Croatia searched for smugglers and evidence at fourteen separate locations. Among the suspects for organizing the smuggling network are nationals of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Turkey.
At the same time, Serbia’s Ministry of Defence announced that, since the migrant crisis began, Serbian army and police had prevented illegal entry into the country of more than 20,000 illegal migrants along the border with Bulgaria and Macedonia. As many as 132 human traffickers were identified and arrested.
Spokesman for the Defence Ministry Jovan Krivokapić said that lately there had been an increase in the number of attempted illegal entries of migrants into the territory of Serbia. He added that joint patrols of police and military forces on the borders were “ready to respond to all challenges”.
Krivokapić said that, with warmer weather and rising temperatures, there were an increasing number of illegal migrants attempting to enter Serbia. “If there are changes in the international arena, that will not be a problem just for Serbia, but for the whole European Union”, said Krivokapić, commenting on possible termination of the agreement between Turkey and the EU on refugees and migrants.
State Secretary at the Serbian Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare Nenad Ivanišević said in early March that in Serbia there were about 7,000 migrants, of which about 6,000 lived in accommodation centres, while the rest refused to go to shelters, choosing rather to stay in parks, abandoned warehouses and around railway and bus stations, in an attempt to continue their journey towards central and western Europe.