Italian police on Saturday arrested 19 suspects, dismantling what authorities say was a legal group that moved migrants from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan to Italy after which into northern Europe.

The investigation, led by prosecutors in Catania, Sicily, unveiled a community that concerned employed or stolen sailboats transporting migrants through Turkey and Greece to Italy. Some then travelled north to the French border and have been smuggled by automobile into France, due to human smugglers primarily based in border cities, police mentioned in a press release.

The arrested suspects included Iraqi Kurds, Afghans and Italians, police mentioned.

One of many alleged ring’s bases was in Bari, southern Italy, the place false paperwork have been issued indicating the migrants had housing, a requirement for residency permits. Different bases have been in Milan and Turin in northern Italy in addition to within the city of Ventimiglia, close to the French border.

Others allegedly concerned within the scheme falsified work contracts so the migrants might efficiently apply for permission to reside in Italy, authorities mentioned.

The investigation started in 2018, triggered by the arrival of 10 boats close to the jap Sicilian metropolis of Syracuse. The boats had sailed from Turkey and Greece within the Japanese Mediterranean, and never from Libya, from the place for years the vast majority of the tons of of 1000’s of migrants had set out for Italy in traffickers’ unseaworthy vessels.

The investigation ascertained the actions of a community of Italians and foreigners, a lot of the latter holding residency permits issued on grounds of worldwide safety, the police mentioned. The ring was “dedicated to facilitating the entrance, stay and transit toward northern Europe of migrants coming from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

One suspect, police mentioned, was about to move migrants from the railroad station at Ventimiglia into France, one of many most well-liked vacation spot nations for these being smuggled.

Skippers who have been engaged to sail the boats to Sicily have been paid about 800 euros ($1,200 Cdn)  per crossing, whereas migrants every paid about 6,000 euros ($9,300 Cdn) to be smuggled from Asia, through Turkey and Greece, into Italy, the police mentioned. The smuggling ring cracked by Italian authorities was an “essential link of connection with criminal groups active in Turkey and Greece,” police mentioned.

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