Tag Archives: smugglers

Mediterranea captain disobeys Italy orders

The Italian NGO Mediterranea‘s Alex migrant rescue vessel carrying 54 people picked up in  Libya waters on July 4 has been stopped off Lampedusa according to a landing ban issued by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, ANSA news agency sources said on July 5.

The vessel of the NGO, which by this time would have arrived in Malta that had given the availability of a safe harbor, breaks the law, ignores the prohibitions and enters Italian waters” Salvini wrote in his Twitter micro blog.

Salvini said the NGO vessel should navigate to Malta or elsewhere, in case it instists on entering Italian waters it would be regarded as an “act of violation“.
Malta offered a port to the ship but the Mediterranea at first said this was “unfeasible“, because of the state of the passengers exhausted by the trip.

The NGO underlined  that because the physical and psychological conditions of the migrants the instructions of Interior minister were impossible to fulfill.

However, Alessandra Sciurba, spokesman of Mediterranea Saving Humans, later communicated that the vessel was ready to transport the migrants at Malta.
It was reported that a Maltese navy ship was send for the Mediterranea to receive the migrants, but the NGO said that they did not have any information about this maneuver.

The Italian navy later offered to transport the Alex‘s migrants to Malta.
The Maltese government said Italy would take 55 migrants  in exchange for the 54 migrants Malta would take from the Mediterranea.

Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio said it was right that the ship should go to Malta; the NGOs that used sailboats like the Mediterranea were “reckless”, he added.


NGOs attack Castaner over collusion with smugglers

My comment on the role of NGOs is unambiguous. […] I have never questioned the sincerity of NGOs”, said French Minister of Interior Christophe Castaner in a video posted on his Twitter micro blog, while ensuring that his statements, concerning NGOs were based on “facts“.

It is documented that in some cases there have been de facto interactions between smugglers and some NGOs,” he said, citing “two Frontex reports in November and December 2016“.

On April 12, while ensuring that NGOs “play a vital role in providing assistance to migrants” in the Mediterranean, Christophe Castaner had considered that they “could be accomplices” smugglers and had called them to “have a responsible attitude“. The SOS Mediterranean Association sent him a letter denouncing “serious accusations“, assuring that none of these allegations “has ever been proven or substantiated by the slightest evidence” and that “none of the judicial proceedings initiated did not succeed“.

Our enemies, our real enemies, our only enemies, are the smugglers. The smugglers, and nobody else“, also underlined Christophe Castaner, who denounced the reactions of indignation coming from the NGOs.

Channel human smuggler arrested in UK

A suspect wanted by Antwerp’s authorities for his connection with an alleged people smuggling network was arrested by the UK’s National Crime Agency in close cooperation with Belgian law enforcement.

British national Saman Sdiq (33) was arrested at his home address in the UK  September, 17. He is suspected of providing vehicles from the UK to the criminal network of which several other alleged members have already been arrested and are in custody in Belgium.

Authorities believe the network collected migrants around Calais and took them into Belgium, before loading them into lorries near the town of Postel, near the Dutch-Belgian border. From there they transported migrants across the Channel.

Belgian prosecutors believe they have identified more than 15 attempts to smuggle illegal migrants between November 2017 and April 2018. On a number of occasions illegals, including minors and young children, were found hidden in the cargo space of the trucks.

 “Belgium and the UK stand firm on stamping out this sort of crime and the horrendous ill-treatment of the vulnerable. The condition in which smuggled migrants are made to travel long distances is appalling. We will continue to find those responsible and punish them” – said British Ambassador to Belgium, Alison Rose.



Russia regards bears as ‘strategic good’

Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation put forward a proposal of recognizing the bears as a strategically important resource of the country and prepared a draft of a relevant government resolution. The document was published on the federal portal of draft normative legal acts.

As such strategically important goods and resources, the draft resolution proposes to determine all populations of brown and Himalayan bears, as well as musk deer, taking into account their high demand in illegal foreign markets, which requires the establishment of special legal protection measures,” says the explanatory note.

On June 27, President Vladimir Putin signed the law passed by the State Duma earlier this month on amending this article of the Criminal Code, providing for criminal liability for the smuggling of strategically important goods and resources, including especially valuable wild animals.

According to the document, now “for certain types of strategically important goods and resources determined by the government of the Russian Federation, their value exceeds 100 thousand rubles.”

The draft of this law was submitted to the State Duma in January 2018 by a group of deputies who proposed amendments to the Criminal Code in the field of countering the smuggling of parts and derivatives of wild animals.

Earlier in June, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia sent a letter to the government proposing to include brown and Himalayan bears in the Red Book of the Russian Federation. According to the agency, this will help protect the spice from “illegal extermination” for the sake of selling “their parts and derivatives.”

In the letter, the Prosecutor General’s Office referred to official data, according to which “in 2016-2017 the customs authorities of the Trans-Baikal, Primorsky Krai, Amur Region and the Jewish Autonomous Region seized or confiscated 189 paws of bear, 23 of them Himalayan, 122 canines, 54 claws, over 2 kg of bile of a bear in a dried form”.

At the end of last year, the Federal Security department for Transbaikal reported the detention of a local resident, who found 468 bear paws and 37 facial parts of elk heads in his car. This is the largest batch of animal derivatives seized in recent years, noted in the special services.

According to the department, the “goods” were intended for resale to Chinese citizens and smuggling to China. “To get such a number of bear paws and elk heads, the poachers had to kill more than 150 animals.

The letter of the Prosecutor General’s Office also included information from the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation on the reduction in the number of brown bears in Russia from 225.1 thousand individuals in 2015 to 143.7 thousand in 2017. “Despite the significant decrease in the number of brown bears, the limit of its permitted production is increasing every year,” the supervisory agency noted.

Bear gallbladder, liver, bile and testicles are prized in Chinese medicine, mostly as aphrodisiacs. A gall bladder can fetch up to $3000. Most bear parts are smuggled into China, Taiwan, and Korea from the Russia, Canada and Alaska (U.S.).

Bear meat is valued by Chinese as sexual-performance and health booster. A bowl of bear paw soup—prized delicacy at restaurants in China, Hong and Taiwan sells for hundreds of dollars.

Live animals are also highly praised in China for ‘bear banquet’. The bear is tortured to death in front of the diners. They enjoy the process explaining it makes the meat taste better. the coast of the bear banquet starts from  $10 000, depending on size of the animal to be consumed, conservationists report.




Europol: wildlife crimes

The Spanish Guardia Civil, with the support of Europol and in close cooperation with Mexico, has carried out Operation SUZAKU, resulting in 29 arrests in Spain and in other countries. All of the arrestees have been charged with crimes of smuggling, wildlife crime and animal abuses, as well as being part of a criminal infrastructure.

Over 2,000 animal were seized during Operation SUKAZU, and the expected benefits that could have been obtained by the trafficking of species have been estimated to be above half a million euro. International trafficking of species is identified as a priority in the fight against organised crime within the EU Policy Cycle for the next four years.

The organised crime group controlled a network of operators, who were transporting birds of a large variety of species to Spain from different places in Africa and Latin America by using mules. International collaboration has taken place with police authorities and other bodies from 18 different countries.

Using various concealment techniques, the criminal group trafficked birds that are classified under different types of protection and that were included in the CITES Convention and in the national protection laws of the countries of origin. Many of the birds died during the transit and sometimes the death rate reached 50%. The criminal group used several points of entry in Spain, using the airports of Madrid-Barajas, Pamplona and Bilbao.

Operation SUZAKU has been mainly carried out by the Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA) of the Guardia Civil. Europol supported the operation and facilitated the exchange of operational information. AMERIPOL coordinated the activities with the different Latin American countries involved.

Europol birds

Italy calls for invesigation of NGO "taxi service" to migrants

The officials in Italy suspect that rescue vessels operated by charities and humanitarian organizations co-operate with smugglers based in Libya. Some of these NGOs act as a sort of “taxi service” by picking refugees up just off the African coast and then transporting them across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy instead of returning them to Africa, Italian officials say. Italy  has received more than half a million migrants in the last three years,. Nowadays there is a word of a number of NGOs operating as ‘transport’ companies funded by billionaire George Soros, who pledged to invest up to $500 million in programs and companies benefiting migrants and refugees fleeing life-threatening situations.

Soros’s agenda aimed at the destruction of national borders in Europe in creation of new markets.

The Italian authorities are interested to investigate the funding of charity boats transporting the migrants. Critics of the charity boat operators say they are colluding with criminal smugglers and, in effect, are accomplices in the deaths of so many migrants trying to reach Europe.

“If the government does not decide to put a brake on these boats, we will find ourselves overrun by tens of thousands of African immigrants by the end of the year,” said Paolo Grimoldi, a lawmaker who belongs to the Lega Nord (Nothern League) party, Reuters reported.




EU to enforce training of Libyan guards



“We reaffirm our determination to act in full respect of human rights, international law and European values, and in conjunction with UNHCR and IOM”, – declared the EU28 from Malta Informal Summit #EUCO in Valletta today.

“On the Central Mediterranean route, however, over 181,000 arrivals were detected in 2016, while the number of persons dead or missing at sea has reached a new record every year since 2013 … we are determined to take additional action to significantly reduce migratory flows along the Central Mediterranean route and break the business model of smugglers, – says the statement.”

The priority will be given to training, equipment and support to the Libyan national coast guard and other relevant agencies, and steep up further efforts to disrupt the business model of smugglers.

Meanwhile the construction of a fence between Italy, and Austia to control area off the northbound motorway at the Brenner pass in the Alps continues.

Europol: traffickers arrests in Germany and Italy


Today Europol confirmed the two operations in Germany and Italy lead to arrests of individuals suspected in trafficking of irregular migrants. On the 5th of January German Federal Police conducted several house searches in Berlin and executed two arrest warrants in Mönchengladbach. Simultaneously Italian authorities arrested a suspect in Bolzano. The arrested are perceived as a part of a criminal network involved in smuggling and trafficking of irregular migrants. The perpetrators did not dwell over transporting migrants under dangerous circumstances in overloaded vehicles.

This criminal syndicate, composed mainly of Lebanese nationals, facilitated the transport of Syrian nationals via Hungary and Austria to Germany.

The arrested are suspected of having smuggled 29 persons in 12 different smuggling incidents since June 2016. Each migrant had to pay between EUR 500 -1 000 to the network.

Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre actively supported the involved Member States’ law enforcement authorities by cross-checking information,  and analytical support highlighting links between different national investigations.

(Source: Europol)