The Turkish coast guard and police on Tuesday caught a total of 276 illegal migrants and eight human traffickers in a vessel off Turkey’s Aegean shore, the coast guard announced on its website.
The coast guard teams, police forces, and anti-smuggling and organized crime units conducted a joint operation both from the sea and the land to catch the migrants off the western province of Izmir, the statement said.
The migrants intended to sneak into Europe on a merchant ship, the guard added, noting that
the human traffickers were detained after the operation.
Meanwhile, the NTV broadcaster put the number of the migrants on the vessel at 268, adding that they were all having difficulties in breathing when they were caught.
It added that the refugees were of different nationalities from Bangladesh, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, and the Central African Republic.
Since the start of this year, a total of 11,856 migrants attempted to reach Greece via Turkey’s seas, down from 14,332 over the same period in 2019, according to the latest figures released by the Turkish coast guard.
The Aegean Sea was once the main route for migrants trying to reach Europe via Turkey. A deal was signed between Turkey and the European Union in March 2016 to curb the flow of illegal immigration.