Authorities in North Macedonia say they have arrested six people on suspicion of running a migrant-smuggling ring that illegally transferred people from Greece to wealthier European countries.
The prosecutor’s office said on June 2 that the arrests were made during police raids in the capital, Skopje, and four other cities.
Police said that the criminal ring had illegally taken at least 100 migrants from Greece in trucks to locations near Serbia’s border since last July.
The migrants were charged by the traffickers up to $850 each.
Authorities said they came from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Syria and other Middle Eastern countries.
If tried and convicted, the six suspects face at least five years in prison.
Police were still searching for three more people with suspected links to the smuggling group.
Four other members of the ring were already serving prison terms, authorities said.
North Macedonia is a transit route for migrants trying to get from Greece to wealthier countries in Western and Northern Europe.
People smuggling has remained active in the region despite border closures and restrictions of movement during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With reporting by AP and BalkanInsight