Italy launches an operation against people smuggling

Italy launches an operation against people smuggling

2022/11/17 at 4:12 am
2022/11/17 at 4:12 am

Italian police issued 18 arrest warrants Thursday for Italian and Tunisian citizens accused of operating a speedboat people-smuggling ring between the Tunisian coast and Sicilian ports.

The suspects are accused of charging between 3,000 and 3,500 euros (3,100 to 5,200 dollars) in cash per person, on trips with between 10 and 30 passengers per boat that reported 30,000 to 70,000 euros for each four-hour journey, said the police in a statement.

The investigation began in February 2019 after a fisherman in the Sicilian port of Gela saw a 10-meter-long carbon fiber boat with two 200-horsepower engines. Investigators discovered that the boat had been stolen 10 days earlier in Catania, Sicily.

The arrest warrants were for 11 Tunisians and seven Italians. They face charges of illegal cross-border trafficking of more than five people, with the aggravating circumstances of inhumane treatment and endangering the lives of migrants, as well as committing crimes for profit.

A Tunisian couple already convicted of human smuggling has been identified as alleged leaders of the plot.

Two Tunisians based in Sicily were accused of managing the money, while five Italians allegedly organized the accommodation of the migrants and the transport to and from the ports.

The warrants also identify four other suspected smugglers, one Italian and three Tunisians, as well as four Tunisians who connected with the migrants in North Africa.

The arrest of the owner of a small farm with a private airfield that allegedly functioned as a base for the plot was also ordered. The farmer was accused of providing employment documents for some of the Tunisian members to legitimize his presence in Italy.

Although the new Italian government has cracked down on humanitarian rescue ships picking up migrants from Libya in the Central Mediterranean, most migrants arriving in Italy travel via routes from Tunisia.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.