SKOPJE, North Macedonia — Police in North Macedonia said Saturday they found 77 migrants in the country’s south and arrested seven Pakistanis suspected of human trafficking.
Police said in a statement the arrests took place late Thursday near the southern town of Negorci when they responded to reports of a large group of people on the move.
The 77 included 52 Syrians, 13 Pakistanis, five Iraqis, five Turks and two Indians.
Seven of the Pakistanis, believed to be the organizers of the group’s illegal entry into North Macedonia from neighboring Greece, were arrested and criminal charges were filed against them.
It was the first large group of migrants crossing into North Macedonia in recent months.
The migrants were being sheltered in a reception center in the border town of Gevgelija pending deportation back to Greece.
According to the police, a total of 5,280 attempts at illegal crossing were prevented in the first six months of 2023, the vast majority of them at the southern border with Greece. That is a drop of 43% from the same period last year and is largely due to the European border and coast guard agency Frontex launching a joint border patrol operation with local authorities last April.
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