At least 55 human traffickers were arrested Monday in operations based in Turkey’s Aegean Izmir province, according to security officials, reports Anadolu Agency.
The 55 were among 80 suspected human traffickers targeted in today’s operations, Huseyin Askin, Izmir’s police chief, told a press conference.
“These were the criminal organizations we considered to have done most of the work, the ones engaged in migrant smuggling in the areas from the North Aegean to the Mediterranean,” he added.
Askin said operations against three different criminal organizations were carried out in eight different provinces, including the capital Ankara, Aydin, Balikesir, Bursa, Canakkale, Istanbul and Kocaeli.
“We dealt the greatest blow to the work of these criminal organizations,” he stressed.
Askin went on to say that some of the criminal leaders were also arrested, including organizers of smuggling that ended in death.
In 2018 some 268,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey, according to the Interior Ministry.
Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.