Estonian passports trafficked in Europe

  • 2000-05-11
TALLINN (BNS) - Estonian border guards suspect that an international, migrant smuggling ring may be operating out of the country's second-largest city of Tartu, as eight illegal migrants, out of 14 seized in western Europe since March, carrying faked Estonian passports, held papers of Tartu region residents.

Since none of the illegals caught had been to Estonia, the passports must have been taken out of the country, border guard spokeswoman Inge Lindsaar told the daily Eesti Paevaleht. She said there are no reports of previous incidents in Europe involving Estonian passports.

The illegals from Afghanistan, Georgia and Armenia claimed to have bought the documents in Russia, the Netherlands and Turkey.

They said a passport, together with a travel package to West Europe, costs $500. The Armenians seized in Sweden meanwhile said they'd paid $500 for the papers alone which they bought from an unidentified person in Riga, the paper reports.

Three of the passports the migrants used to reach West Europe were still valid here while 11 had been canceled as their Estonian owners had reported them as lost or stolen.