DrPolice in Austria have uncovered a network of smugglers who claim to have illegally brought more than 700 people into the country. Most of them headed to Germany, a police spokesman said in St. Pölten in Lower Austria on Saturday. Within a few days, 15 suspected smugglers who had transported people from Syria, Lebanon and Egypt were arrested.
According to investigators, the smuggling operation was broken up after the start of the transfer of 200 to 300 people with a total of 25 vehicles from the Serbian-Hungarian border on November 16. The route passed through Slovakia and the Czech Republic to Lower Austria, where 14 vehicles were captured. Drivers were recruited in Moldova, Ukraine and Uzbekistan with monthly wages of up to 3,000 euros.
Of the hundreds of migrants, about a third have applied for asylum in Austria, said police spokesman Johann Baumschlager of the German news agency DPA. Those arrested stated that they planned to go to Germany themselves. The other two-thirds may have traveled there, Baumschlager said. This year, more than 330 people were arrested in Austria on suspicion of being smugglers.
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