4 arrested in Italy, Hungary, Slovenia for trafficking migrants

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EU Seeks to Close Balkan Migrant Route

MILAN, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Police in Italy, Hungary and Slovenia on Saturday arrested four people in a coordinated operation targeting a group suspected of smuggling illegal migrants into Italy from the Balkans, Italian police said.

Two of the suspects were arrested in northern Italy, one in Budapest and one in the Slovenian city of Maribor, they said. The four are all charged with criminal conspiracy and aiding and abetting clandestine migration.

The suspects are part of a trans-national criminal group of Pakistani origin that is based in Milan, the Italian Carabinieri police said in a statement.

The organization transported Pakistani, Bengali and Afghan migrants from Hungary into Italy and northern European countries, packing them into delivery vans and using fake documents, the statement said.

The police said the business generated returns close to 500,000 euros a year.

More than one million migrants, many fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have poured into Europe through Greece since last year, with the Balkans being the preferred route to Western Europe.

The number of migrants has fallen sharply in recent months, however, due to much tighter policing, the erection of walls on some stretches of border and a deal between the European Union and Turkey which involves returning illegal migrants arriving in Greece back to Turkey. (Reporting by Giulia Segreti; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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NTP: Migrants surge across Balkans to beat Hungary's razor fence
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NTP: Migrants surge across Balkans to beat Hungary's razor fence
In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, migrants hide as they wait for the night to fall in a field of corn meters away from the Serbian-Hungarian border, in Horgos, (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
In this photo taken Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, migrants disembark a local bus in Kanjiza, Serbia. Serbia's border with EU-member Hungary has become a major crossing point for tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa who are using the so-called Balkan route to enter the EU while fleeing poverty and wars in their home countries. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
In this photo taken Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, a boy washes his shirt inside a camp for migrants in Kanjiza, Serbia. Serbia's border with EU-member Hungary has become a major crossing point for tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa who are using the so-called Balkan route to enter the EU while fleeing poverty and wars in their home countries. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, migrants from Syria rest by the side of a dirt road while on their way to cross the Serbian-Hungarian border in Horgos, Serbia. Serbia's border with EU-member Hungary has become a major crossing point for tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa who are using the so-called Balkan route to enter the EU while fleeing poverty and wars in their home countries. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, migrants from Syria walk through a field on their way to the Serbian-Hungarian border, in Horgos, Serbia. Serbia's border with EU-member Hungary has become a major crossing point for tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa who are using the so-called Balkan route to enter the EU while fleeing poverty and wars in their home countries. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, migrants walk through a field on their way to the Serbian-Hungarian border, in Horgos, Serbia. Serbia's border with EU-member Hungary has become a major crossing point for tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, a Serbian border stone at the Serbian-Hungarian border in Hajdukovo, Serbia. Some 1,000 migrants per day tried to cross into Hungary from Serbia before Hungary announced plans for the razor-wire fence a few months ago. That number has shot up to 1,500. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, migrants hide in a corn field meters away from the Serbian-Hungarian border in Horgos, Serbia. Serbia's border with EU-member Hungary has become a major crossing point for tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa who are using the so-called Balkan route to enter the EU while fleeing poverty and wars in their home countries. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, a migrant from Syria checks his mobile phone GPS feature close to the Serbian-Hungarian border in Horgos, Serbia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, a group of migrants heads out to the Serbian-Hungarian border in Horgos, Serbia. Serbia's border with EU-member Hungary has become a major crossing point for tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, a migrant uses his mobile phone GPS while hiding in a corn field meters away from the Serbian-Hungarian border in Horgos, Serbia. Serbia's border with EU-member Hungary has become a major crossing point for tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, a group of migrants heads out to the Serbian-Hungarian border in Horgos, Serbia. Serbia's border with EU-member Hungary has become a major crossing point for tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa who are using the so-called Balkan route to enter the EU while fleeing poverty and wars in their home countries. Traffic sign reads "State Border" in Serbian. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, a Hungarian police patrol vehicle passes by a section of a border fence at the Serbian-Hungarian border in Hajdukovo, Serbia. Some 1,000 migrants per day tried to cross into Hungary from Serbia before Hungary announced plans for the razor-wire fence a few months ago. That number has shot up to 1,500. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
In this photo taken Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, children play at a migrant camp close to the Serbian-Hungarian border in Kanjiza, Serbia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, the Serbian-Hungarian border is seen through an opening of a Cold War era deserted army bunker in Hajdukovo, Serbia. Some 1,000 migrants per day tried to cross into Hungary from Serbia before Hungary announced plans for the razor-wire fence a few months ago. That number has shot up to 1,500. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, migrants board a bus that will take them closer to the Serbian-Hungarian border in Kanjiza, Serbia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, a group of migrants heads out to the Serbian-Hungarian border in Horgos, Serbia. Serbia's border with EU-member Hungary has become a major crossing point for tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa who are using the so-called Balkan route to enter the EU while fleeing poverty and wars in their home countries. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
In this photo taken Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, a migrant youth peers through a window of a local bus close to the Serbian-Hungarian border in Kanjiza, Serbia. Serbia's border with EU-member Hungary has become a major crossing point for tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa who are using the so-called Balkan route to enter the EU while fleeing poverty and wars in their home countries. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015, migrants hide in a corn field meters away from the Serbian-Hungarian border in Horgos, Serbia. Serbia's border with EU-member Hungary has become a major crossing point for tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa who are using the so-called Balkan route to enter the EU while fleeing poverty and wars in their home countries. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
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