Lebanese police dismantle human trafficking group smuggling Syrian nationals
Two Lebanese and one Syrian national were arrested as they had been actively smuggling people through an illegal border crossing in the Wadi Khaled region in northern Lebanon, according to a statement released by the Lebanese Internal Security Forces.
The arrests, according to the statement, took place in two eastern suburbs of Beirut on 3 December.
Weapons, as well as Lebanese, Syrian and US currencies, were confiscated, the statement added.
The three confessed to smuggling Syrian nationals in and out of Lebanese territory for nearly a year, where they are transported through the unmarked border on motorcycles or taxis for a sum ranging between one and two million Lebanese Pounds (currently around 40 to 80 USD on the black market).
Such arrests have been common in Lebanon in recent years, as human trafficking networks exploit refugees fleeing conflict in Syria.
Fugitives escaping authorities in Lebanon or Syria have also resorted to smugglers to cross into either country.
The Lebanese army has also thwarted several attempts in recent years to smuggle people out by sea, trying to reach the shores of Cyprus and Turkey.
According to unofficial figures, around 1.5 million Syrian refugees reside in Lebanon, which shares a 394 km border with Syria.