The Greek police have arrested two gang members responsible for smuggling at least 73 people into Greece through the Greek-Turkish border.
The immigrants were forced to pay €4,000 per person to the gang under the promise they would be taken safely to Greece, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
InfoMigrants has reported that last year Greek border authorities managed to prevent more than 260,000 cases of irregular border crossings. Around 1,500 suspected smugglers were also arrested during the same period.
Most migrants also continue attempting sea crossings from Turkey to Greece, often leading to fatal shipwrecks in Aegean waters and elsewhere.
Data provided by the UN Migration Agency (IOM) reveal that last year a total of nearly 380 people died or went missing in the eastern Mediterranean due to these dangerous crossing attempts. Such data also show that at least 18 people have been registered as either dead or missing trying to reach Greece this year.
In addition, in the first week of January of this year, the Greek Coast Guard stopped 32 boats with 1,108 people, which marks a 125 per cent increase in number of boats detected compared to the same period in 2022.
Thousands of migrants also try to reach Greece from Turkey every year by crossing the Evros River. Last month, Greek authorities announced a further extension of their border fence with Turkey in a bid to stop the illegal entry of migrants.
Commenting on this decision, the Minister of Civil Defense, Takis Theodorikakos, said that the current border fence with Turkey, 37.5 kilometres long, will be expanded by an additional 35 kilometres.
According to the Minister, the Hellenic Republic has also requested the five-meter-high steel fence to cover most of the 192-kilometre border. As a result, this new fence will cost around €100 million and will be financed from the budget of the Republic of Greece.
During this month, Minister Theodorikakos pointed out that the construction of about 35 additional kilometres of the Evros fence on the border between Greece and Turkey is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
He also added that despite the fact that the fence is on Greece’s border with Turkey, its construction does not only benefit Greece but other European Union countries as well since if migrants cannot enter Greece, they also cannot travel forward to other EU countries either.