As Hungarian police are stepping up their raids against people smugglers transporting illegal immigrants from the East to the West across Hungary, organized crime groups are increasing their tariffs to reflect the growing dangers they face, daily Magyar Nemzet writes.
Organized crime groups operating in Serbia continued to employ human smugglers recruited from the former Soviet states in January, the paper writes. But due to recent successful police actions, only half as many drivers are taking the risk of transporting the border-violators.
According to international criminal intelligence, prices have also risen, with drivers asking for higher payment, which human smuggling gangs then make migrants pay. After the Estonian, Chechen and Armenian drivers caught recently, just last week, a Georgian man driving a rented car with Polish license plates was stopped in Sopron and arrested. The 25-year-old had been transporting a dozen illegal Syrian immigrants.
In another incident, employees of the National Tax and Customs Office were checking the cargo areas of trucks in a parking lot near Szolnok on January 29 when they noticed a closed van with water and sandwiches in the driver’s compartment. The case was immediately reported to the police. When the police arrived, the driver left his vehicle and ran off through the field on the outskirts of the city.
Twenty migrants were found freezing in the van and were brought to the police station; they claimed to be Syrian and had no valid travel documents. The car had supposedly entered Hungary at Gyula to pick up Syrians in the area who were crossing the border illegally on foot. The Romanian driver was caught and prosecuted for the crime of people smuggling.
Then, on January 27, near Ajka-Bakonygyepes, the police stopped a car with Austrian plates. A Syrian man, granted refugee status in Austria four years ago, was driving the rented Mercedes. Five illegal immigrants were also traveling in the luxury car, while one young man claiming to be Syrian had been locked in the trunk.
The driver had picked up his compatriots at dawn that day near the border in Baranya County, used his phone to keep in touch with the smugglers who had transported the Syrians across the border, and, according to the agreement, would have taken his passengers to Vienna. The Syrian migrants have now been deported from the country, and criminal proceedings have been launched against the Syrian driver; also, according to European law, this violation will terminate the driver’s refugee status at the end of the proceedings, and he will have to leave the territory of the European Union.
People smuggling in Hungary is punishable by up to five years in prison, or ten years if it is perpetrated in an organized manner.
Title image: Illegal immigrants found in the cargo area of a van. (source: police.hu)