Italian police arrest 19 in crackdown on migrant smuggling ring

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Italian police have arrested 19 people across Italy in connection with a migrant-smuggling ring, according to an announcement on Twitter.

In an official announcement on their social media account, the police said: “19 arrested for aiding and abetting clandestine immigration to Bari, Milan, Turin, and Ventimiglia by mobile units from Syracuse, Bari, Imperia, Turin, Milan, and state police forces. Criminal groups in Turkey and Greece aided the migrants in their journey towards France and northern Europe.”

The smuggling ring charged migrants from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan around €6,000 for transportation from the Eastern Mediterranean, through Italy, and eventually into France. The group also provided migrants with fake documents.

The arrests come after a two-year investigation following the arrival of 10 boats in Sicily which came from Turkey and Greece rather than Libya.

The ring paid boat skippers around €800 per crossing and then supplied the migrants with falsified documents including proof of residence and work contracts to support their applications for residency permits.

Relatives of migrants would often pay for the journey via money transfer at “collection points” in Turkey.

According to the investigation, different groups involved in the ring had different roles. Those in Bari, for example, were responsible of providing accommodation and providing them with the necessary documents which allowed them to travel within the country.

Those arrested in Turin and Milan helped in directing the migrants to Ventimiglia, a town bordering France, where the migrants would be then transported into France. The Italian police reported that one suspect was stopped at the railway station in Ventimiglia on the way to transport a group of migrants.

16 telephones, four laptops, various documents and €25,000 in cash were seized.