Human traffickers, 83 migrants caught on luxury yacht
İZMİR - Anadolu Agency
The Turkish Coast Guard has captured 83 people trying to cross into Italy illegally from the Aegean resort town of Çeşme in a U.S.-flagged luxury yacht.
Some 82 of the smuggled migrants were Syrian, while one was an Afghan, according to security sources.
Three more people on board, all of whom were Ukrainians, were also detained on suspicion they were part of the crew.
Gendarmerie forces also detained one Ukrainian, one Iraqi and two other people as suspected human traffickers.
The 12-meter-long yacht, the Big Man, was anchored at Port Alaçatı in Çeşme in the Aegean province of İzmir.
The yacht reportedly belonged to the Ukrainian suspect, according to sources.
The migrants reportedly paid $5,500 per person to the human traffickers, the sources said.
The two Ukrainians on board and the owner of the yacht entered Turkey from Istanbul’s Atatürk International airport on Feb. 28 and one of them was detained earlier for human trafficking, sources said.
A total of 289 migrants were apprehended off Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean coasts over the past week, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on March 13.
Between March 3 and 10, the Turkish Coast Guard intercepted 289 migrants in seven separate incidents and arrested seven migrant smugglers, the statement said.
Separately, 178 migrants were apprehended in four incidents in Çeşme and Seferihisar, another district in İzmir, and Turkey’s northwestern Aegean town of Ayvalık, it said.
Two search and rescue ships, 71 coast guard boats, 23 coast guard security teams (SAGET), six coastal safety and security search and rescue teams (DEGAK) and 39 control boats patrolled for 2,197 hours to prevent irregular migration.
Five of Turkey’s Aegean provinces - Çanakkale, Balıkesir, İzmir, Muğla and Aydın - are prime spots for refugees leaving Turkey for the EU, with Greek islands lying within sight of the Turkish coast.
Over the past years, hundreds of thousands have made short but perilous journeys across the Aegean in a bid to reach northern and western Europe in search for a better life. Hundreds of people have died at sea as a number of boats carrying refugees sank or capsized. The Turkish Coast Guard has rescued thousands of others.