Home » Trafficking of migrants on luxury dinghies, “VIP trips” Tunisia-Trapani: arrests

Trafficking of migrants on luxury dinghies, “VIP trips” Tunisia-Trapani: arrests

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Trafficking of migrants on luxury dinghies, “VIP trips” Tunisia-Trapani: arrests

Migrant trafficking on luxury dinghies: “VIP” trips Tunisia-Trapani: 12 arrests

The District Anti-Mafia Directorate of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Palermo has delegated the State Police to execute the arrest decree of a crime suspect issued against 12 suspects, of which 6 Italians and 6 Tunisians, as they are considered responsible, in various capacities, for criminal association aimed at aiding and abetting illegal immigration in an aggravated form.

The restrictive measure incorporates the results of a wide-ranging investigation investigative activityinitiated by the Mobile Squads of Palermo and Trapani, by the staff of the Central Operational Service and by the SISCO of Palermo and coordinated by the District Anti-Mafia Directorate of the Palermo Prosecutor’s Office, concerning a alleged criminal association, composed of cells present both in Tunisia and Italy, active in the illegal transfer of Tunisian migrants from the northern coasts of Tunisia arriving on the Marsala coast (TP), as early as August 2022. These trips, monitored during the investigation with localization systems, would have been defined by some witnesses as “VIP trips” as they were organized by the criminal association through a rapid and easy transport service, on vessels equipped with large-displacement engines, for a number of no more than twenty migrants. The transport, operated by expert pilots familiar with the Tunisian route, with the declared guarantee of not being intercepted by the military ships responsible for the control, would have taken place upon payment of sums of money ranging from 3 to 6 thousand euros, higher than that usually requested by dilapidated and crowded boats. In particular, the investigation would have revealed, on a preliminary basis, the role played by the Marsala cell, made up of Italian and Tunisian subjects. The group in question would have been responsible for ensuring logistical support, identifying and preparing the boats for the transport of illegal immigrants and “recruiting” the smugglers, usually chosen from Tunisians living in Italy.

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The investigations would also have made it possible to identify the presence, in the Marsala cell, of a Tunisian, requesting international protection, suspected of being one of the main promoters of the organization, as well as considered, from the results that emerged from the collection activities, as a former member corrupt Tunisian police From the complex investigative framework, the latter suspect would in turn be in close contact with the top exponent of the cell active in Tunisia, recipient of the same restrictive measure, who would have had the role of procuring migrants also through third parties, deciding on conditions and price of transport from the northern coasts of Tunisia to the Sicilian ones.

In response to the investigative progress, 8 alleged suspects were arrested during the investigation by the investigators of the aforementioned Flying Squads smugglers , all of Tunisian nationality, for aiding and abetting illegal immigration. The flagrant arrests were carried out during four separate landings, which took place on the Marsala coast respectively on 29 June last year, on 14 and 24 August last year and on 15 September last year, and organized by the investigated group. Four of them were also investigated for resistance to warships, having attempted to escape despite the intervention of Guardia di Finanza ships, which came to the rescue of the vessels. On one occasion, the smugglers allegedly ordered light flares to be fired at the naval vessel. The migrants that the association allegedly introduced clandestinely into Italy are 73, including 12 minors and 6 women.

All were rescued and identified by State Police investigators immediately after landing on the Marsala coast. Among the illegal immigrants, 19 were arrested for illegal re-entry into the national territory. Furthermore, 4 migrants were arrested in execution of a final conviction by the judicial authority for crimes against property and drugs. On the occasion of the aforementioned arrests, the State Police seized 4 inflatable boats, all boats made available by the Italian cell active in Marsala. From the complex of investigative acquisitions it appears that a sum of money of approximately 90 thousand euros was transferred to an Italian suspect by one of the promoters of the association of Tunisian origin, based in the Marsala area.

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This operation by the State Police is part of a broader investigation activity coordinated by the Central Operational Service, also at an international level, with the launch of an Operational Task Force (OTF) called “Mediterranean” on the delicate criminal phenomenon of aiding and abetting illegal immigration along maritime routes, which promoted information exchange and operational support with Europol, some European countries and investigative offices. In this context, during the operation, Guest Officer investigators from EUROPOL and the Tunisian Police are present at the Trapani Police Headquarters as observers and to facilitate any further exchanges of information. During the operational phases, supported by State Police personnel from the Special Units, several searches delegated by the judicial authority were carried out. Today’s restrictive measure is based on serious indications of guilt and on a circumstantial framework that has emerged against the suspects for whom the principle of the presumption of innocence applies.

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