THREE Cypriots – two men and a woman – have been detained by Greek authorities in connection with smuggling irregular migrants through Greece, it emerged on Thursday.
One of the three, a 48-year-old, is believed to be the leader of the ring. Greek police arrested seven suspects and were seeking six more.
Three Greek nationals and a Pakistani man were among those detained.
The ring is suspected of smuggling irregular migrants to other EU countries, mainly Germany, through Thessaloniki’s Makedonia airport.
Reports said they charged between €3,000 and €4,000 per head, providing them with all the necessary travel documents.
The ringleader was wanted in Cyprus since 2004 for fraud and forgery but no EU arrest warrant had been issued.
The woman, a permanent resident of Greece, reportedly lives with the 48-year-old and works at the airport.
The other Cypriot suspect is a pilot working for a Greek airline.
An airport employee, responsible for check-ins and boarding, allowed the migrants through and provided intelligence about the situation – security, personnel, shifts, etc — at the airport. The migrants were provided with counterfeit, including Cypriot, passports and identity cards.
Among those arrested are the owner and an employee of a tour agency, which provided the airline tickets allegedly knowing that the passengers’ details were fake.
Greek authorities believe that the organisation had started operating in October 2013.
They provided the migrants with the travel documents and after organising them in small groups they helped them board direct flights to EU countries.