Croatian police bust van carrying 33 illegal migrants

Croatian police found 33 illegal migrants in a van after a human trafficker driving the van crashed into a blockade near Zagreb, police announced on its website on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old driver from Serbia was severely injured after driving through a toll gate and crashed into police blockade, while 33 illegal migrants in the van were unharmed, police said.

The car chase started more than 100 kilometers from Zagreb, at the main country’s highway. Police suspected that the driver was transporting illegal migrants, tried to stop him but he ignored police signs and kept driving towards Zagreb. During the chase, the van hit police car several times. He was finally stopped at the end of a highway after the van crashed in a police blockade.

Police announced on Tuesday that they arrested 620 human smugglers in 2018. This year, until June 1, 344 smugglers have been arrested.

The southeastern European country is on the way of the so-called Balkan Route where migrants are trying to reach western and northern Europe. In 2015 and 2016, hundreds of thousands of migrants passed through Croatia. After EU countries closed their borders to migrants, massive migrations stopped. Still, there are thousands of migrants in the neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina who are trying to illegally enter Croatia and go further to the Schengen country Slovenia.

In 2018, Croatian police registered 8,207 attempts of illegal border-crossing, which is 70 percent more than in 2017.