Italian Police Arrest 19 in Crackdown on Migrant Smuggling Ring

ITALIAN police have arrested 19 people in a crackdown on an elaborate human smuggling ring operating across the country with international connections.

The elaborate network of human smugglers charged migrants 6000 euro each to transport them into northern Europe from Turkey and Greece via Italy. The migrants would be moved from the Eastern Meditteranean into the Sicilian port of Syracuse on stolen sailboats, whose sailors were allegedly paid 1000 euro per journey.

Police say the arrested individuals are of Kurdish, Afghan, and Italian origins while the migrants they smuggled were mostly from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The network had teams nationwide, each with different tasks. In the coastal city Bari, the smugglers specialised in gaining documents and permits allowing the migrants to travel within Italy. In the northern cities of Milan and Turin, the local teams helped migrants evade police while crossing into France from the border town of Ventimiglia.

Police stated that the gang was ‘dedicated to facilitating the entrance, stay, and transit towards northern Europe of migrants coming from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan’. Investigators began their operation in 2018 when they noticed migrant boats arriving in Syracuse, and have now seized phones, computers, and 25,000 euro in cash. Criminal networks have reaped huge profits in the human smuggling underworld in recent years, particularly in Meditteranean countries.

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Oisin Sweeney

Oisin is an Irish writer based in Seville, the sunny capital of Andalucia. After starting his working life as a bookseller, he moved into journalism and cut his teeth as a reporter at one of Ireland's biggest news websites. Since joining Euro Weekly News in November, he has enjoyed covering the latest stories from Seville, Spain and further afield - with special interests in crime, cybersecurity, and European politics. Anyone who can pronounce his name first try gets a free cerveza...