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Getting rich by smuggling people

Source: Večernje novosti   7. July 2013.

People smuggling across the border is one of the most profitable types of smuggling because it can be earned at least 3 000 euros per month. This "business" often brings much more money than the drug smuggling and carries much less risk. Experts claim that the organized criminal groups almost always stand behind this business, but it can also be the government officials, judging by the recent arrest of a police officer who was suspected for smuggling asylum seekers.

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The former chief of police in Loznica, Slavisa Mitrovic, who was in the meantime assigned as assistant chief of police in the neighboring Krupanj, was arrested near Presevo on June 25th, 2013. He was caught in driving a group of 30 asylum seekers, who have, presumably, entered the country from Macedonia. According to Rados Djurovic from the Asylum Protection Center, they had no information and suspicion that someone from the police participates in the smuggling of people across the Serbian borders.

"Given the fact that we do this work for a long time and that we have a lot of contacts with asylum seekers, we are very well acquaint with how the people smuggling function and which are the groups involved in this business. We have never before received the information that someone from the police might be involved in the smuggling", said Rados Djurovic.

"Organized groups and people who had the expirience in smuggling of various goods are those who almost always stand behind the people smuggling. At some point, they realize the possibility of a profit in smuggling people and focus on smuggling people. They all know how the Border Service are working, when and where they can cross the border. I assume that the arrested policeman was in a particularly good position because he knew the system from within", added Djurovic.

How much smuggling can be profitable business can be seen through the unofficial tariff that asylum seekers have to pay to the smugglers. For the attempt of individual crossing by foot, which is the cheapest variant, should be allocate 150 euros, while for a family of four should pay at least 450 euros.

"When it comes to people smuggling, the rule is that the price determinate the quality. Individual transition, with no guarantee that it will be successful costs at least 150 euros and it has very small chance that they will not be caught", explains Djurovic. "However, for the smugglers it is very profitable because they get money for the service no matter if it was successful. If you have to allocate about 800 euros, then your transit is almost certain. Anyone who has the money mostly do not care whether it will cross on the other side", said Djurovic.

Because of all this, Rados Djurovic points out that this business "accumulate" huge sums of money.

"Unlike the smuggling of narcotics, people smugglers have low risk to be caught because most of them do not transport, but they only give them instructions", explained Djurovic, adding that "Also, it is difficult to prove the connection between smugglers and smuggled people".

As Djurovic explains, it is necessary to catch a smuggler in the act of smuggling or to find the money he took from the people, but this is usually not happening.

According to the Criminal Law of Serbia, the assistance in crossing the state border is punishable by imprisonment from six months to five years. If the offense was committed by a group, with the abuse of the official position or "in a manner which endangers the life and health of persons who illegally cross the border or is smuggled large number of people" penalty is from one to 10 years in prison. If the offense has done by an organized criminal group, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment from three to 12 years.

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