Migrants and refugees run to a refugee center after crossing the Croatian-Slovenian border near Rigonce on October 24, 2015. Slovenia says it is considering building a border fence to help stem a record influx of migrants and refugees, as thousands more people arrived from Croatia on October 23. AFP PHOTO / JURE MAKOVEC        (Photo credit should read Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty Images)

Inside the Migrant-Smuggling Trade: Escapes Start at €1,000

AtHENS—The leaders of 15 human-smuggling networks gathered behind the closed curtains of an Afghan restaurant here in late February, the air fragrant from grilled lamb and hookahs. It was time to celebrate a boost to their business, people present recall. Police in Macedonia had just stopped letting Afghans cross the border from Greece.

Today, the entire human highway to Europe’s north, traveled by nearly a million refugees and other migrants last year, has been closed. The crackdown, complete with razor-wire fences guarded by riot police, has stranded about 50,000 migrants in Greece. Many are desperate to get out but too afraid to turn back. For those with cash left, smugglers are now the best hope.