SOFIA, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- Bulgarian law enforcement authorities have dismantled an illegal immigrant smuggling ring organized by Iraqis, the interior ministry and the national prosecutor's office said in a joint statement on Monday.
According to the statement about the investigation, which began in July 2016, the trafficking group had 20 members.
"Many of them are outside the country and their identity is uncertain," it said.
However, on Thursday, the police managed to arrest the boss of the gang and two of its members, all Iraqi citizens, the statement said.
According to evidence collected so far, the group recruited migrants from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, and organized their illegal transfer through the Turkish-Bulgarian border, stay in Bulgaria, and travel to Western Europe via Romania and Serbia, the statement said.
Some of the migrants were provided with false identity documents at a cost of 500 U.S. dollars per person, it said.
There was evidence that the three arrested members of the group were also engaged in trafficking firearms, the statement added.
Bulgaria is the most direct route for refugees coming from Turkey to Central Europe. According to its last annual report, the Bulgarian interior ministry registered a total of 95,641 attempted illegal entries into the country in 2015.