Migrants smuggling: a business for many

tunisia-rifugiatiA total turnover of 60 million dollars a year. The criminal corporation that manages human trafficking is growing its business. While the number of dead migrants increases day by day, the investigations to destroy the criminal net that makes money out of the desperation of people and puts at risk the lives of tens of thousands of migrants continue.

A study presented in Cambridge which was conducted by two Italian economists, Carlo Amenta and Paolo Di Betta, and by a Magistrate of the Antimafia-District-Direction (DDA) of Palermo, Gery Ferrara, a leading expert in investigating human trafficking, shows that in spite of all the operations carried out –  such as Mare Nostrum and Triton – the business of people smuggling is progressively increasing.

The study has analyzed “Glauco 1” and “Glauco 2”, investigations that were conducted by the State Police under the direction of the Prosecutor of Palermo, which show in great detail the functioning mechanisms of a criminal organization dedicated to the travel arrangements of illegal migrants from countries in Central Africa to the shores of Libya and Italy.

The total profit generated by these transactions remains very high even taking into account the costs for food and shelter of the migrants detained on Libyan beaches, those of the labour linked to security, to kidnappings and other activities, and those related to the purchase of boats to cross the sea.

One of the leaders of this organization is Mered Medhanie, Eritrean, super-trafficker, considered by the prosecutor of Palermo to be one of the most important bosses in human beings – smuggling from Libya across the Mediterranean. According to preliminary information reported by Repubblica, Medhanie has organized trips for 7,000 / 8,000 people, has managed alone about 4% of the entire trafficking of migrants who passed across Libya between 2014 and 2015. According to the reconstructions made by investigators, each migrant had to pay between 4.000 and 5.000 euro for the trip towards Northern European countries, usually through Libya and Italy.

Thanks to the cooperation between local and British authorities, Mered was arrested at the beginning of June 2016 and was extradited to Italy. A great success has been mentioned, but doubts about the identity of this person have emerged in the very last hours, especially following some testimonies collected by the British media. The arrested person is not Mered: this subject would only have the name in common with him – according to sources of the Guardian, has never been in Libya and has nothing to do with the alleged network for smuggling. But for judges in Rome there isn’t mistaken identity.

The business of migrants, however, involves not only the international criminal world. Today there are as many as 14 Public Prosecutors who have opened files about non-transparent management of reception centers for migrants arriving in Italy. Apparently Italian ships go to the Libyan coast to take the migrants before they attempt the crossing. Mafia Capitale, in short, is but one example of a world that, playing on emergency, has collapsed into the criminal underworld, on the skin of thousands of illegal immigrants and refugees

“Profugopoli” is the title of the new book by Mario Giordano, and there are not only boats and smugglers. These landings are a colossal expenditure bore by the State, and they translate into a business worth three billion euro, which go both to deserving organizations but also to less deserving subjects who take advantage of the refugees to pursue a roaring trade.

But not only this: the costs that Italy supports to manage the emergencies are huge. Only to patrol the Italian border are spent 3 million euro per month; the same amount is spent to improve our control and reception system. Hundreds and hundreds of millions of euro are arriving from the European Union to support this expensive chain. But Italy is not able to make the best use out of funds because of its intrinsic clientelistic system. And they end up financing even the marches in Rome or projects remained on paper and never made operational, not to mention the real scams. Billions are spent annually but will never solve the problem.


Massimiliano Fanni Canelles

Viceprimario al reparto di Accettazione ed Emergenza dell'Ospedale ¨Franz Tappeiner¨di Merano nella Südtiroler Sanitätsbetrieb – Azienda sanitaria dell'Alto Adige – da giugno 2019. Attualmente in prima linea nella gestione clinica e nell'organizzazione per l'emergenza Coronavirus. In particolare responsabile del reparto di infettivi e semi – intensiva del Pronto Soccorso dell'ospedale di Merano. 


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