On Thursday alone, Hungarian police had to intervene in 307 illegal border-crossing attempts in the country’s southeastern Csongrád County, conservative daily Magyar Nemzet reports. As a large number of Romanian drivers have been caught in the past few months, people smugglers are now recruiting drivers from other countries, mostly Germany.
Among the seven people smugglers apprehended in recent days, the Hungarian police have not prosecuted any suspects holding Romanian citizenship, but Bulgarian, Hungarian, Serbian and three German men have been charged, Magyar Nemzet writes.
In the first three days of December, smugglers attempted to take 72 illegal immigrants from Hungary to Austria. According to Magyar Nemzet, after the successive failures of Romanian drivers and the confiscation of vans registered in Romania, organized crime gangs operating in Serbia have started using new smugglers of alternate nationalities.
In an attempt to replace Romanian drivers, gang leaders were looking for new contractors to transport migrant groups crossing the border to Austria and Germany. The criminals operated on the assumption that the Hungarian police would only check the closed vans with Romanian registration plates, suitable for use as “migrant buses,” and cars with German and Hungarian registration could pass through the checkpoints easily.
On the first day of December, a German man seeking to smuggle Ethiopian refugees into Germany was apprehended in the immediate vicinity of the southern border section. On December 2, a 29-year-old German man transported seven Iranian men to Nagycenk, and the migrants entered the country illegally. The next day, the police stopped a 34-year-old German man in downtown Szeged (close to the Serbian border); he had 12 Syrian migrants in the back of his van.
The illegal entrants were expelled from the country by the police, the people smugglers were detained, criminal proceedings were instituted against them, and their cars were seized. One noteworthy fact is that the armed smuggler who committed suicide with a hand grenade at Vitnyéd at the end of October was also a German national.
Meanwhile, the Border Police Directorate of the Intervention Police discovered another tunnel dug during the night in the section of the border close to the Kunbaja settlement early on the morning of December 3. It appeared the tunnel had already been used.
According to criminal intelligence, people smugglers use these tunnels dug in the dam of the Tisza river, where there is no fence for flood protection reasons, and they are then transported further by van. The 40 migrants captured on the outskirts of Mélykút on the morning of December 3 — the largest group who illegally crossed the border last month — were also waiting for a van to transport them, according to Magyar Nemzet.