Authorities smash third human smuggling ring

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Police have uncovered another migrant trafficking network, the third in a month, following an operation where four Syrians were detained.

According to the CNA, the operation was carried out based on evidence assessed by the Information Exchange Group,  established on the instructions of the Interior Minister.

Those arrested were of Syrian origin, allegedly active in a network of migrant trafficking in Cyprus and other neighbouring countries.

The migrant trafficking ring appears to have been bringing in migrants from Syria by sea in the area of Famagusta, such as Cape Greco.

CNA obtained confirmation of the arrests from Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou.

He told CNA that dismantling illegal migrant networks is one of the government’s top priorities.

Ioannou said migrant trafficking rings are taking advantage of human suffering, convincing migrants to take on dangerous journeys with inappropriate means, and endangering their lives.

This is the third migrant trafficking ring to be targeted by authorities in less than a month, also involving Syrians.

One network seems to have had a wider range, operating by sea in the Southern Mediterranean and through Turkey.

Ioannou told MPs last week that there had been a 51% reduction in total arrivals in the past six months compared to last year.

Asylum applications between March-August 2022 reached 11,961, while applications from March-August 2023 dropped to 5,866.

The Interior Minister also highlighted that the number of people deported from Cyprus has increased by 50%.

Referring to returns, the minister said: “Last year, we had around 3,200 returns, while this year that number has risen to 4,700”.

Describing the overall message as “encouraging”, Ioannou said it marked the first time that the island’s balance between arrivals and returns had flipped.