One suspect was arrested Friday offshore from the island of Corfu, the Greek island closest to the Italian mainland, on a sailboat that carried 23 migrants and was headed to Italy. The others were arrested in the Greek capital of Athens.
Police say members of the trafficking ring had bought at least four sailboats, 10 to 15 meters (32 to 49 feet) in length, each capable of carrying a minimum of 15 migrants. The boats were registered in the names of Bulgarian citizens who were not the actual owners.
The ring, active at least since June 2019, moved the sailboats around in Greek marinas to avoid detection, police said. At least three trips to Italy, including Friday’s, have been established but there may have been more, police say.
The trafficking ring members transported the migrants to Corfu in groups of three or four by car or bus to avoid raising suspicions and paid for their lodging at local hotels. Each migrant had to pay 5,500 euros ($6,280) for the trip, police said.