Source: Dan Lyman
Austrian authorities arrested more than a dozen people suspected of smuggling migrants into the country, according to reports.
A total of 15 suspects hailing from multiple countries were apprehended during busts earlier this month near Vienna.
The network is believed to have smuggled over 700 migrants, primarily from the Middle East and Africa, into the European Union, making nearly $3 million (€2.5 million) in the process.
The arrests came after Austrian police reportedly launched an investigation into the group’s activities in October.
“Police said they arrested the 15 smugglers on November 16 when 25 vehicles carrying 200 to 300 migrants were intercepted in vehicle checks in Lower Austria and at a Vienna hotel. Police seized 14 vehicles in the operation,” Deutsche Welle reports.
“Drivers were recruited in Moldova, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan through social media ads offering up to €3,000 (about $4,000) in monthly wages. The drivers were all said to have tried to escape upon capture.”
Migrants paid between $4,500 and $5,600 per person to be driven to Austria from the border of Serbia and Hungary – a gateway into the European Union.
The smugglers typically used vehicles with blacked out windows and the rear seats removed to transport up to 15 migrants at a time, authorities say.
Most of the migrants likely traveled on to Germany, but approximately a third applied for asylum in Austria, according to police spokesman Johann Baumschlager.