Migrant smugglers intercepted in Italy

Migrant smugglers intercepted in Italy | INFBusiness.com

A gang of criminals who regularly transport migrants from Tunisia to Italy were intercepted by Italian authorities as they were leaving Sicily.

Their alleged plan was to travel from Sicily to Tunisia to pick up a ‘cargo’ of migrants to bring back to Italy. The smugglers allegedly told the boatmen who were leaving the Italian island to “dispose of the migrants on the high seas” if there were any problems, such as engine failure.

The smugglers in question were eleven Tunisians and seven Italians. Imprisonment was ordered for twelve and house arrest for those remaining. Six of the recipients are still unaccounted for, one was already in prison, and another had recently been released from prison and was awaiting repatriation.

The investigation was launched on 21 February 2019 when a 10-metre fibreglass boat with two 200-horsepower engines, which was later found to have been stolen in Sicily, was found on the shore.

The police managed to trace it back to a couple of Tunisian origins who, according to the prosecution, allegedly facilitated the irregular entry onto Italian territory of dozens of people mainly of North African origin.

“There are serious indications of participation in a criminal organisation dedicated to aiding and abetting aggravated illegal immigration” with a “transnational character in that it operates in several states,” the Italian investigators said.

Also contested is the aggravating circumstance of having exposed the migrants they transported to serious danger to their lives and having subjected them to inhuman and degrading treatment.

The alleged criminal association would have strategic points located in Sicily and would operate in the arm of the sea between the Tunisian cities of Al Haouaria, Dar Allouche and Korba and the provinces of Caltanissetta, Trapani and Agrigento, so as to reach the Italian coasts in less than four hours.

According to the prosecution, they would transport between 10 and 30 people at a time. The price per person, paid in cash in Tunisia before departure, would have been between €3,000 and €5,000 and the alleged profit of the criminal organisation, according to investigative estimates, would have been between €30,000 and €70,000 per trip.

(Federica Pascale | EURACTIV.it)

Source: euractiv.com

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