People-smuggling migrants now renting downtown flats

People-smuggling migrants now renting downtown flats

Police operations have intensified in northern Serbia, as law enforcement officers try to clear the forests of illegal immigrants hiding there. Taxi drivers and homeowners told V4NA that migrants involved in the people smuggling business are now renting properties for their shady dealings in central Subotica for well over the market price. The migrants tend to lose their papers in the woods near the border. Our news agency has recently obtained a young Afghan national's documents.


Was it gunshots, or the sound of firecrackers?

As the festive season is approaching, those living on the southern side of the Serbia-Hungary border are preparing for Christmas while keeping an ear on whether the booms they are hearing are firecrackers or gunshots. A family living on the edge of the Makkhetes forest told V4NA about their ordeal. They say they can hear shots regularly from the forest and they try to reassure themselves that the sounds come from some type of pyrotechnic device. Except that they don’t.

Photo: V4NA

A Serbian woman in her 30s, who would not reveal her name, said that constant shooting can be heard from the forest and the fence. The locals are afraid, but, as they say, they have become used to it. There have already been several shootouts in the woods this year. Now the locals are venturing out again, with their families, to try and tidy up the mess and litter left behind in the forest. On one such occasion, they found personal documents scattered on the ground.

There were several Turkish passports and a certificate issued by the Serbian High Commission for Refugees, the woman recalled. They noticed a document with a photo on it on Thursday morning, and they showed it to our news agency.

Photo: V4NA


According to the document, the illegal immigrant was born on 1 January 2004, so he’s just over 18 years old, and hails from Afghanistan. The question is why he threw away this document, as it is supposed to prove that he is registered in Serbia. However, the authenticity of his papers cannot be verified.

Automatic weapons near the border fence

The latest police operation was held by Serb law enforcement officers mid-week, in the Makkhetes forest, north of Subotica. Authorities have deployed dozens of gendarmes and police to search the forest. Sporadic gunfire was heard during the operation, but no injuries were reported, a statement by the interior ministry says.

The police task force on combating people smuggling and illegal migration found 60 migrants in the forest area of Subotica on Thursday and seized weapons and ammunition. Among the illegal immigrants, they discovered a person suspected of wounding a man with a firearm two months ago and, as police put it, 20 people who could be of security interest. During the operation, the officers searched the area and found two automatic rifles and related accessories, and about 200 rounds of ammunition. The migrants were taken to reception centres, while the suspects of the crimes were referred to the prosecutor’s office.

Photo: V4NA (captured earlier)

They are doing business in the centre of Subotica

Although police have strengthened their control over the nearby forest, people-smuggling migrants have reacted and begun renting properties in central Subotica for well over market price, enabling them to continue with their shady dealings, many local cab drivers and homeowners told V4NA.

One of the taxi drivers, who was unwilling to disclose his name, said rent for the people smugglers could cost thousands of euros a month. He is aware of cases where criminals have paid owners 2-3 or even 4,000 euros for some apartments, the driver pointed out.

Photo: V4NA

A local property planner, who wished to remain anonymous, also confirmed this information to us, adding that the people smugglers offered to pay 1,500 euros for one particular flat, but he refused to rent it out. In Subotica, the monthly rent for a 60-sqm apartment is around 300 euros.

According to unofficial information, illegal immigrants are also breaking into houses in the town, as winter is setting in.

An elderly woman said that she had recently found several migrants eating in her kitchen. They climbed in through the windows and then emptied her fridge. She was not harmed, the migrants left after eating.

However, the lady was so scared that she has not dared to go back to her house since the incident, and decided to spend the holidays with her daughter.



afghan, border, migrant, police, serbia