A high-speed boat that trafficked irregular migrants from Turkey and Lebanon to Greece, Italy and Cyprus evaded authorities for months, but has finally been caught off of the coast of the island of Rhodes, Greece, thanks to new and faster Greek coastguard vessels, said Deputy Minister of Shipping and Island Policy Yiannis Pappas to Greek Parliament.

Until now, Greek coastguard vessels were no match for the highspeed boat, which travelled up to 40 nautical miles per hour, said Pappas.

The trafficking boat, which had originated in Turkey, dropped off 34 irregular migrants on the island of Rhodes’ popular tourist beach Afantou and, upon its departure back to Turkey, was commandeered after a short chase by the Greek coastguard.

The island of Rhodes is a key tourist destination for Greece and received 2.5 million of the 30 million international tourists that visited Greece in 2022, according to Statista.

The news about the capture of the trafficking vessel comes on the heels of several incidents between irregular migrants and Greek authorities on the island in October, which reveal that the pressure from irregular migration on the island has come to a boiling point.

On October 29 the Athens News Agency reported that over 400 irregular migrants occupied the port of Rhodes and blocked the landing of a ferry boat, demanding to be taken off the island to organized reception facilities or the mainland.

Migrants on the island have also marched on town hall on several occasions, in protest of their conditions and formed an unofficial camp in one of the major parks of the city. News reports today stated that 300 migrants will be relocated to reception centers in other areas of Greece and that the Municipality is already working to clean up the public areas that had been occupied by the migrants.