Austria: 15 suspected migrant traffickers arrested

Austrian authorities say 15 suspected migrant traffickers have been arrested and are accused of transporting Syrian, Lebanese and Egyptian migrants into the country

Last month, Police in Lower Austria province opened an investigation into the group that smuggled migrants from the Serbian-Hungarian border via Slovakia and the Czech Republic to Austria’s northeastern corner. The migrants were being dropped off north of Vienna.

The 15 suspected migrant traffickers are of diverse nationalities. Their identities show them to be citizens of Moldova, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. They were arrested when officers carried out checks on suspicious vehicles in mid-November. Checks were also carried out at a Vienna hotel, police said in a statement. All of the suspected migrant smugglers tried to flee when officers stopped them. Not only did the officers arrest the traffickers, but they also seized 14 vehicles that were used to smuggle the migrants.

The smuggle vans

Each of the ‘smuggles vans’ had been adapted to allegedly hold between 12-15 people. There were no rear seats in the vehicles and the rear windows had been sprayed to remove the visibility into and out of the van.

Apparently, investigations have shown that the suspects transported more than 700 people at a total cost of more than €2.5 million, police said. The migrants were charged €4,000-5,000 per person for the journey. Once they were left in Austria, the migrants then said they planned to continue to Germany either by train or being picked up in Austria by relatives.

The alleged migrant trafffickers were recruited in their home countries via ads on social media offering work as drivers for €2,000-3,000 a month.

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