STA, 24 October 2019 - Slovenian police have busted a ring that made an estimated EUR 1.3 million in illegal gain by smuggling Chinese nationals to Italy through Slovenia. Of the four Slovenians and eight Chinese operating the ring, three are in detention and two in house arrest, Maribor police said on Thursday.
One of the detained suspects is a Slovenian citizen and the others are Chinese with permanent residence in Slovenia.
The members of the ring are suspected of helping at least 143 Chinese enter Slovenia illegally through Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia over the past year and a half, Maribor's criminal police chief Beno Meglič said at today's news conference.
To get illegally from China to Italy, a Chinese citizen had to pay from EUR 9,000 to EUR 14,000, the police officer said.
The smuggled persons had been lured to Italy in China and transported to Europe, chiefly Moscow, by plane.
The route then ran to Serbia's Belgrade, from where they were taken on to Croatia or to Bosnia, and from there to Slovenia, Italy's eastern neighbour.
The Chinese entered Slovenia in the north-east of the country, in the area near the city of Ptuj.
Taxi services were used to transport them from Ptuj to the Italian border or to Italy, with four of the suspects posing as taxi drivers.
As many as five of Slovenia's eight police departments took part in the investigation, which lasted a year and a half and ended on 16 October.
The police also seized some EUR 39,000 in cash, passports and several electronic devices.
Under the Slovenian penal code, the crime of smuggling people illegally across the state border carries a prison sentence of one to eight years, and a fine.