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SKOPJE, North Macedonia — A border patrol in North Macedonia has detained 40 migrants found crammed into a van near a central town, and arrested the driver on suspicion of trafficking them, police said Thursday.

Police said the 36 Afghans and four Pakistanis were discovered late on Wednesday in a van near the town of Stip, some 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of North Macedonia's capital Skopje.

The migrants are believed to have entered North Macedonia illegally from Greece. They were transferred to a detention center in the border town of Gevgelija pending deportation back to Greece.

North Macedonia was part of what became known as the "Balkan route" for migrants and refugees seeking to make their way to more prosperous countries of the European Union. Although that route has been shut for years, thousands still pay large sums to smugglers to help them through Balkan borders.

According to the latest data available, in the first three weeks of January, a total of 1,365 migrants have been detained after entering North Macedonia illegally.