- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 28, 2018

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) - A month after squeezing into a rubber boat to cross a frigid river on the Greek-Turkish border, Syrian refugee Mohammad al Jarad sat in a chartered private jet leaving a small Greek airport for France.

The travel upgrade was the latest ploy by international smuggling gangs, which are exploiting rules meant to ease travel within Europe to spirit out well-paying migrants trapped in Greece by stringent land and sea border controls.

Greek police say 1,672 migrants were caught last year trying to get out of the country on regular flights using fake identity papers from all over the world, with most of the documents made in Greece itself. That’s a large increase from 2016, and is considered so serious that German authorities launched checks on all flights arriving from Greece starting last November.

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