Turkey arrests 72 suspects over migrant smuggling

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ISTANBUL – Turkish security forces on Saturday arrested at least 72 suspected human traffickers in operations based in the country’s commercial hub Istanbul, according to security sources.

Police arrested 72 suspects after prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 94 alleged members of a criminal organization which organizes illegal border crossings, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Police carried out simultaneous operations across 12 provinces to capture suspects engaged in migrant smuggling.

During the operations, at least 1,477 irregular migrants from countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq and Syria were also held after crossing into the country illegally.

Security forces continue to search for the remaining 22 suspects.

The sources added that out of 72 suspects, 13 were remanded in custody, and at least 8 dingy boats were seized as part of the operations.

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.