Greece: 3 arrested for smuggling migrants

In this photo taken on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 photo, Members of Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms approach Nuestra Madre de Loreto, a Spanish fishing vessel that rescued twelve migrants and refugees two days ago about 78 miles north off Libyan shore. (AP Photo/Javier Fergo)

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ROME (AP) — The Latest on migrants in Europe (all times local):

6 p.m.

Greek authorities say they have broken a criminal ring that smuggled migrants that had entered Greece illegally to Italy by using small vessels departing from remote beaches.

A police statement Monday said three men have been arrested for alleged ring membership, while 9 more are being sought.

The suspects were caught Friday in the southern Peloponnese region, allegedly preparing to take a group of 46 migrants to Italy on a 12-meter (40-foot) long vessel.

Police said the ring charged migrants, who were seeking to continue their journey to more affluent European countries, to handle the entire Greek leg of their trip.

It allegedly picked them up at the northeastern land border with Turkey and drove them to the Peloponnese, from where they continued by sea.

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2:30 p.m.

Italian police say they have detained five Egyptians accused of smuggling a boatload of 264 migrants from Libya to Sicily.

The overloaded fishing boat pulled into the Ragusa port Saturday, its third day at sea, and the migrants disembarked and were registered.

Police said Monday that the migrants, most of them from Eritrea, identified the five Egyptian crew who charged them 1,500 euros apiece for the passage.

While most migrants are rescued at sea before reaching Italy, some do occasionally make it if their original boat is sturdy enough.

Overall, migrant crossings to Italy began decreasing in 2017, after Italy’s previous government negotiated deals with Libyan leaders and militias. The numbers have dropped further after the current government cracked down on humanitarian groups operating rescue missions in the Mediterranean.
– Associated Press