The Latest: 6 arrested in Albania for migrant smuggling
VIENNA – The Latest on Europe's response to the influx of migrants and refugees to the continent (all times local):
Albanian prosecutors say that six people have been detained on suspicion of illegally smuggling refugees from Arab countries.
A statement Wednesday said the six were part of an 18-member group whose arrests started in September after police found some 100 migrants, mainly from Syria, coming from neighboring Greece. The migrants would then head to Kosovo hidden in trucks, then Serbia before trying to reach Austria or Germany.
Each migrant would pay 900 to 1,250 Euros ($963 to $1330) for the illegal transport, prosecutors said.
Albania, a NATO member since 2009, has not been a major transit route for migrants through Europe so far, although small groups have tried crossing it to reach its northern neighbors.
The interior and defense ministers of 13 European nations are meeting in Vienna on ways to prepare for a possible uptick in migrant flows once winter is over.
Convened by Austria's interior and defense ministers, Wednesday's meeting includes counterparts from the Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo and Greece.
Some of the countries became arrival or transit points along the now-closed west Balkans route for the influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants looking for better lives. Others oppose resettling migrants already in the EU on their territories.
Austria was instrumental in coordinating last year's shutdown of the migrants' path into prosperous EU countries that began in Greece and wound through the western Balkans.