Serbian police dismantle smuggler gang and find migrants

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbian police broke up a smuggling gang near the border with Hungary early Tuesday and found various weapons and hundreds of passports and other documents taken from migrants trying to reach Western Europe , officials said.

Police also discovered 120 migrants, including women and children, during the operation in the Mali Horgos region, according to a statement.

Tuesday’s operation is the second of the month against smugglers along the border with Hungary, Serbia’s European Union neighbor. The increased police activity followed a clash in the area in early July that left one person dead.

Police said they found firearms and other weapons at the smugglers.

“Every human being on our territory has the right to be respected and to dignity,” Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said.

People fleeing violence or poverty in the Middle East, Africa or Asia have been blocked by the Hungarian border hoping to cross the Balkan country and move further west.

Sneaking past Serbia’s northern border often takes months because Hungary has erected two rows of barbed wire and deployed tight security. Migrants therefore often turn to smugglers to continue their journey to the more prosperous nations of the EU.

Migrants regularly face perils on their long journeys to a better life. From Serbia, migrants also cross Croatia, Bosnia or Romania.

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Follow AP’s coverage of migration issues at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

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