Syrian national wanted by Belgian authorities was arrested in Crete for human trafficking

A Syrian national wanted by Belgian authorities was arrested on the Crete island for human trafficking, Greek police announced on Friday.

The 51-year-old man, arrested on Thursday near Chania port city, would be detained until his extradition to Belgium, according to a police statement.

The suspect faces charges of participation in a criminal organization, human trafficking and forgery, and in his possession were found 20,000 euros (22,000 U.S. dollars), several documents, mobile phones and laptops and tablets, police said.

He is believed to be a member of an international ring that exploits refugees and migrants seeking to reach central and northern Europe.

Also on Friday, Greek police announced the arrest of a 36-year-old Pakistani national in an Athens suburb on similar charges, with five undocumented Bangladesh nationals.

With each refugee and migrant paying on average 1,000 euros to cross the Mediterranean and thousands still willing to take the risk to escape wars and poverty, Greek authorities have noted in recent months that gangs are seeking alternative routes after the implementation of the European Union-Turkey deal to stem the influx since March.

More than one million people landed on the shores of the Northern Aegean Sea islands from Turkey since early 2015. According to European law enforcement agency Europol estimates earlier this year, smugglers shared some 5-6 billion euros last year.

After the implementation of the agreement which foresees that those not eligible for asylum will be sent back, the Greek Coast Guard records more and more cases of refugee boats reaching other islands in the Cyclades archipelago in the Aegean or Peloponnese peninsula.

Only in the past week, Greek authorities rescued more than 100 people who landed on Milos island and more than 130 who reached Methoni city in the southern Peloponnese.

In addition, border guards at the land border with Turkey in northern Greece have warned of a 90 percent increase of undocumented migrants and refugees crossing the borderline in the past six months.

More than 200 people were detained at the Evros region near the borderline only this week.

More than 60,000 refugees and migrants are currently stranded in Greece after the closure of the Balkan route to central Europe in February, according to the latest account of Greece’s Refugee Crisis Management Coordination Body.