A speed boat carrying 22 foreign nationals attempting to illegally enter Greek territory was detected by a Hellenic Coast Guard patrol boat late Saturday in asea region southeast of the eastern Aegean island of Chios (Hios). A total of 24 individuals (11 men, seven women and six minors) were in the vessels, including two individuals identified as the migrant smugglers.

The would-be migrants were transported to the island’s main port before being transferred to a closed detention center for identification and processing. The two trafficking suspects were arrested.

An investigation is continuing.

Migrant traffickers operating from the western shores of Turkey have for years ferried hundreds of thousands of people – mostly from the Middle East and south Asia – onto Greek territory, part of a bid by the latter to reach preferred destinations in western Europe. The peak in trafficking occurred in 2015.