A large roundup in Italy, where police has discovered a transnational criminal organization that seems to have organized migrants and drug trafficking. Thirty-eight individuals have been arrested, accused of the crimes of criminal association with the aim of favoring illegal immigration, illegal exercise of financial intermediation and of criminal association aimed at international drug trafficking. Law enforcement officials have arrested the suspects in several Italian cities since the early hours this morning. The organization was composed of 25 Eritreans, 12 Ethiopians, and an Italian.
The cities where the Italian State Police has carried out the arrests are the following: Palermo, Rome, Viterbo, Agrigento, Catania, Trapani, Milan, Macerata, Genoa, and Lecco. The man arrested in Lecco is an Eritrean, Weldekindan Tedro, born in 1984, who has been living in Italy for a few years now, with papers and a job in a company in Lecco. The agents of the Flying Squad of Lecco arrested him in Pescarenico and brought him to a prison nearby. The young man is accused of supporting illegal immigration: according to the investigations, the man’s role seems to have been marginal. He was involved in the production of false documentation to allow his countrymen to stay in Italy. These papers were given to the organizations that managed illegal human trafficking.
Surveys have had a major breakthrough with the statements of an Eritrean justice collaborator arrested in 2014, Nuredin Wehabrebi Atta, who exposed the horrors perpetrated by this group. Atta is the first foreigner admitted to a protection program for repentant and the investigators consider him particularly reliable; last February, he had been sentenced to five years. The former smuggler decided to tell everything “’cause there were too many deaths at sea”, referring, in particular, to the massacre off Lampedusa on 3 October 2013, when there have been 366 victims; the man assured he had nothing to do with it.
During the investigations, the mobile teams of the cities of Palermo and Agrigento and of the Central Operations Service have identified large flows of money, which might be the profit of migrant trafficking. Besides, the network was running a flourishing international trade of “catha”, a drug imported from Ethiopia, which is considered to be a hard drug in Italy.
The revelations of the repentant allowed the investigators to make sure that the “den” of human traffickers was a perfumery near the Termini Station in Rome. EUR 526,000 and $ 25,000 in cash have been seized during the operation called Glaucus 3 inside the store, an inspection of June 13, but also what has been called a “real ledger” containing several names of foreign nationals and reference users.
Furthermore, investigations have revealed the different ways in which traffickers were able to take migrants to Italy: not only by sea, but also with the aid of false family reunification. On some occasions, they even organized fake marriages with complacent citizens, in return for large sums of money. In fact, the cost of every fake marriage ranged between ten and fifteen thousand dollars. “The price of every fake family status or residence certificate belonging to other foreigners was between 500 and 600 euros.” The false “documents allowed the holders to apply, also at the prefecture of Agrigento, for family reunification with other people, who were thus allowed to come to Italy.” The survey is coordinated by deputy prosecutor Maurizio Scalia and by the prosecutors Gery Ferrara, Claudio Camilleri, and Annamaria Picozzi.
This year, according to data provided by IOM (International Organization for Migration) to 15 May, the total number of people who landed on the coasts of the European Union following Mediterranean routes reached 189,414; and 32,486 of them have arrived to Italy (976 people died) and 155,837 arrived to Greece (376 victims). According to data reported by Frontex, in April this year the number of migrant arrivals to Italy has exceeded – for the first time since June 2015 – those in Greece: in the Hellenic peninsula have been recorded around 2, 700 – 90 percent less than during the previous month – while in the central Mediterranean – 8,370. The turnaround of Greek and Italian trends – Frontex says – has occurred despite the 8,370 arrivals registered on the central Mediterranean route, showing reductions: by 13 percent compared to March and by 50 percent compared to the same month in 2015.