Police in Cyprus believe that a wanted man in Larnaca is involved in a human smuggling network, following the arrests of his wife and others last week near the buffer zone.
Law enforcement officials have released a photo of 35-year-old Veysal Akpinar, a Larnaca resident of Turkish nationality according to police, whose wife was detained on October 26 in rural Nicosia near the buffer zone along with seven other individuals.
Police said Akpinar’s wife and another woman, both described as foreign nationals in their mid to late 20’s, drove with another male in a suspicious vehicle inside the UN buffer zone, in an area between Avlona in the north and Peristerona in the south, just before 3pm.
The man exited the vehicle and walked into the north and then returned with six other persons on foot, according to police, who said a number of individuals entered the car but not everyone.
The man exited the vehicle and walked into the north and then returned with six other persons on foot, according to police, who said a number of individuals entered the car but not everyone
Officers who stopped the vehicle for inspection around 3:30pm found the two women from Larnaca in the front, as well as six people in the back, four men and two women. Police later said four were from Cameroon and two from Nigeria, all asylum seekers who ended up being transported to Pournara migrant camp nearby.
Police told Knews that Akpinar was not in the vehicle at the time the other suspects were apprehended but a warrant had been issued for his arrest.
Additional reports said the two women from Larnaca, whose nationality has not been disclosed but was said to be different from Akpinar, had been residing in the southern town for some time.
Police did not comment on unconfirmed reports that Akpinar may have dual nationality or whether he had at least one run-in with the Turkish Cypriot police in the north.
But an official told Knews that police investigators had clear evidence that the three main suspects were implicated in a human smuggling case, all facing possible charges including felony conspiracy, aiding or abetting, harboring undocumented migrants, and human smuggling.