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Swiss authorities see increase in illegal border crossings

The Swiss authorities said Thursday there had been a significant increase in the number of people trying to enter Switzerland illegally or smuggle drugs into the country in the first half of this year.

This content was published on July 15, 1999 - 08:24

The Swiss authorities said Thursday there had been a significant increase in the number of people trying to enter Switzerland illegally or smuggle drugs into the country in the first half of this year.

Figures released by the Swiss customs authorities showed the number of illegal immigrants rose to 7,851, which is about 3,000 more than in the same period last year.

The vast majority of illegal border crossings occurred in southern canton Ticino, where the number of illegal entries nearly doubled.

The canton borders Italy, which has been a key route for smugglers taking Kosovo refugees into Switzerland.

The number of smugglers detained nearly doubled in the first six months, reaching an overall of 663 detentions.

The Swiss authorities said that 6,350 illegal immigrants stopped by border police came from Kosovo. Another 236 were from Albania and 116 from Turkey.

Border police further noted an increase in the number of forged documents used by those trying to enter the country illegally. The Balkan conflict again loomed large in this context as most of the falsified documents were carried by citizens from Yugoslavia.

“The number of incidents with forged documents signals that cross-border criminal activities is on the increase,” said Rodolfo Contin, spokesman for the Swiss customs authorities.

The authorities said drug smuggling was also on the rise: Customs and border police seized 97 kilogrammes of heroin and 35 kilogrammes of cocaine.


From staff and wire reports.

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