Libyan smugglers in Malta sanctioned by U.S.

The U.S. has imposed financial sanctions on a network of smugglers contributing to the instability in Libya. The network includes a Malta-based company, Alwefaq Ltd.

In a statement issued by the Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, it was explained that there are three individuals and a Malta-based company. These individuals include Libyan national Faysal al-Wadi (Wadi), who operates the vessel called Maraya. He has two associates, Musbah Mohamad M Wadi (Musbah) and Nourddin Milood M Musbah (Nourddin).

The U.S. has identified the vessel Maraya as blocked property. Furthermore, all assets of these persons, including the identified vessel, that are in or come within the U.S. or are in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The statement outlined that Wadi has worked with a network of contacts in North Africa and southern Europe to smuggle fuel from, and illicit drugs through, Libya to Malta. Competition for control of smuggling routes, oil facilities, and transport nodes is a key driver of conflict in Libya and deprives the Libyan people of economic resources.

Wadi’s illicit trafficking operation transported drugs between the Libyan port of Zuwarah and the maritime location known as Hurd’s Bank, just outside of Malta’s territorial waters. Hurd’s Bank is a well-known geographic transfer location for illicit maritime transactions. Wadi has kept all official documentation clear of his name, while being the primary organizer of smuggling operations using the vessel Maraya.

Malta and Turkey have just announced that they have agreed to help Libya upgrade the capabilities of the Libyan Coast Guard. This is in order to strengthen the Libyan southern borders and combat human trafficking and smuggling.