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Smugglers crammed these 15 migrants into one vehicle, say police

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By Euronews
Migrants in the back of a vehicle stopped during the police operation
Migrants in the back of a vehicle stopped during the police operation   -   Copyright  Europol
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A gang of smugglers used luxury cars to transport hundreds of migrants from Turkey to Greece - sometimes driving at speeds of up to 250km/h to avoid police, according to Europol.

Both smugglers and migrants were injured in speeding incidents, which included up to 15 migrants being packed into a single vehicle, according to the police agency.

The leaders of the gang were arrested during multiple operations on Wednesday, July 21, in an operation by Bulgarian and Hungarian police forces.

Raids in Bulgaria, Greece and Hungary saw 14 suspects arrested, and 25 vehicles seized along with electronics, phones, SIM cards, crypto-mining equipment and cash.

Fifteen of the vehicles seized were high-end cars, police said.

Europol
One of the vehicle seized by policeEuropol

The criminal network was moving migrants from Turkey to Greece through the Evros border region.

A two-year investigation discovered more than 100 high-end cars served the operations, of which 66 were seized by authorities before the raids this month.

The vehicles had been registered in Bulgaria and sometimes in Georgia.

The cars were a mix of different high-end luxury vehicles, described by Europol as "expensive European brands".

They were personal use vehicles rather than vans or transportation vehicles.

One luxury Sedan was stopped which was carrying 15 migrants.

Europol
Up to 15 migrants were transported at any one timeEuropol
Europol
Migrants in the back of a vehicle stopped during the police operationEuropol

Forty-three smugglers were arrested before the raids, while one smuggler died in a car accident. In total, 442 migrants were smuggled, of which 13 were injured.

The suspects were collecting between €2,000 and €2,500 per person for the journies and were transporting up to 15 migrants at a time.

Migrants were concealed in the trunks of some vehicles, even when the vehicles were racing away from police at dangerously high speeds.

The operation was carried out under the umbrella of the Greek National Operational Plan signed by Europol and the Hellenic Police in June 2016.