Slovak police charge five with smuggling migrants to Germany, Italy

October 14, 2016 8:43 AM EDT

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BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Five Slovaks are facing charges of smuggling at least 300 illegal migrants last year from Hungary to western Europe, mostly to Germany and Italy, Slovakian police said on Friday.

The five men were arrested in a series of house raids by Slovak police on Tuesday morning and face up to 10 years in prison.

Police said they hid migrants from Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan in customized cars from Slovak and Czech rental companies and charged each of them 500-1,000 euros ($550-$1,100).

Slovakia has not been a principal route for the hundreds of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa who have sought to reach richer parts of the EU via the Balkans and Hungary over the past two years.

Last year, 71 refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan were found dead in an abandoned truck on an Austrian highway near the Slovak and Hungarian borders.

(Reporting by Tatiana Jancarikova; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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