Friday, December 05, 2014

Italian police arrest Eritrean gang who smuggled migrants

(Dec 04, 2014, (The Guardian))--Ten suspected migrant smugglers were arrested on Wednesday in Italy and Germany, including the alleged ringleader behind a treacherous journey that killed an estimated 244 people off the coast of Libya in June.

The alleged human traffickers, who were picked up in an operation called Tokhla, were all Eritrean. They were charged with conspiracy and aiding illegal immigration. An 11th Eritrean was arrested for harbouring the migrants.

The operation marked a significant victory for Italian police, who said the smuggling ring arranged more than 20 trips between north Africa and Europe between May and September. The suspects allegedly used their network across Italy, including the Lazio and Lombardy regions, to smuggle the migrants to other European countries.

“This is a very important operation carried out by the Italian police with the cooperation of the German police and other authorities, and we think we have caught some important people within the organisation,” said Giovanni Salvi, the chief prosecutor in the case.

Police in Catania, who lead the investigation, also found nine Somalis, including eight children, during the operation. The victims had been locked in an attic by the suspected smugglers while they awaited payment by from the migrants’ families. Salvi told the Guardian that the children were in good health. Read more from The Guardian »

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