Border police face more ruthless criminals

Switzerland's border guards patrol the 1,881km frontier Keystone

Switzerland's border police are having to contend with increasingly professional and ruthless criminals. They report that drug trafficking is rising, and that illegal immigrants are more often resorting to violence.

This content was published on July 20, 2000 minutes

Latest statistics, released on Thursday, show Swiss border guards handed over an average of 80 people to police each day during the first six months of this year.

They reported that, in most of those cases, they were required to employ weapons to secure compliance from what they say are increasingly violent and ruthless people. They said the worst-affected area was Geneva.

The statistics show that although the overall number of people trying to enter the country illegally has risen only slightly they are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their methods. Many have false passports or identity papers, and the guards say they are more likely to resort to violence when stopped.

Drug smuggling is also on the increase, with border guards reporting a rise of more than 20 per cent in the number of smuggling attempts compared to the first six months of last year.

On the positive side, the number of asylum seekers and economic migrants trying to gain illegal entry into Switzerland fell by more than half, with just 3,149 cases compared to 7,851 in the same period last year.

Switzerland has about 1,900 border guards manning 106 fixed posts and 32 mobile check points along the country's 1,881km border.

swissinfo with agencies

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