Report: Syrian Gangs Dominate Human Trafficking Across Aegean into Europe

AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis
AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis

Syrians are the key actors in the human trafficking organizations that illegally smuggle migrants across the Aegean Sea, from Turkey to the countries of the European Union (EU), reports Hurriyet Daily News.

Recent investigations launched by the Izmir Police Department into the human smuggling gangs have reportedly revealed that Syrians have replaced Turks in dominating the trafficking activities in the Aegean Sea.

Turks were found to be below the Syrians in the smuggling gangs’s hierarchy, notes Hurriyet. Syrians, who control the money flow into the trafficking organizations, were discovered to be in charge.

“Especially in the past few operations we have determined that Syrians are at the top of the organizations,” an İzmir Police Department official told Hurriyet on condition of anonymity.

“The reason for this is the trust a Syrian has toward a [fellow] Syrian. There were cases where [migrant Syrians who wished to illegally reach the EU] were tricked, fooled or left on a coast other than one of the Greek islands,” added the official.

In recent years, the Turkish Coast Guard has apprehended thousands of migrants trying to reach the EU by making the treacherous sea journey.

“Turkey has become a destination for migrants looking to illegally enter the European Union both because it sits next door to Syria, which has been ensconced in a brutal civil war for four years, and because it shares borders with EU members Bulgaria and Greece,” reports Hurriyet.

Turkey’s Aegean territory has become the most favorite path for migrants seeking to illegally enter the EU due to the region’s proximity to the Greek islands on the Aegean Sea, it adds.

An investigation into a human trafficking organization, carried out by the Izmir police and the National Intelligence Agency (MIT), found that 19 of the 31 members were Syrians who held prominent positions within the gang.

Normally, migrants pay between 1,000 (about $1,123) to 5,000 (about $5,617) euros to be smuggled into the EU through Turkey, the unnamed police officer told Hurriyet.

However, the amount can reach up to $10,000.

“The most expensive, but the safest, way for smuggling is via a jet ski or a speed-boat, which is about 10,000 dollars, the officer said, adding that the smugglers took the migrants one by one on jet skis and dropped them off on a Greek island, while one or very few people were smuggled with speedboats to avoid attracting the attention of the coast guards,” notes Hurriyet.


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