The Biggest Illegal Travel Agency In The World

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The book ‘Confessions of a human trafficker’ reveals the operation of the “largest illegal travel agency in the world” through the words of the same criminals

Opportunities make human trafficker to man. The opportunities and the absence of scruples, along with a good dose of beatings, business sense, ability to create networks and adapt very quickly to market changes. Criminology professor Andrea Di Nicola and journalist Giampaolo Musumeci traveled from Croatia to Tunisia, from Greece to Egypt, from France to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to explain how the “biggest illegal travel agency in the world” works on the inside. the words of the criminals themselves. Their voices, reflected in the book Confessions of a trafficker of people (Altamarea), have arrived this Tuesday to Madrid to reveal the intricacies of a business that is increasingly in demand.

Among them there are those who believe themselves Moses and who affirm that their job is to help others to fulfill dreams. Sometimes they are petty criminals or even migrants who pay for the trip claiming to have great skills as a sailor. In any case, the authors are clear: the smuggler who patrons the boat or the cayuco only represents the tip of the iceberg and the detention of a few boatmen does not serve to end the trafficking of people.

“The trafficker is the triumph of the chiaroscuros: on the one hand, his narrative is that he does not do anything wrong, he only helps people, on the other, until Europe still does not offer answers, paradoxically they play an institutional role: they create an (very little) humanitarian and allow people to move in. On occasion, they even guarantee the enjoyment of a right to asylum, recognized by international law.The paradox is that refugees have to pay to exercise a right and can not go to an embassy and apply for a visa, “explains Musumeci during his stay in Madrid.

“Do not think it’s easy. To do this business, you have to be brave. You should not be afraid of the police, nor afraid of ending up in jail. The stronger you are, the more respect you have and, therefore, the more you work. Everyone must be afraid of you. Here my word is always the last, otherwise I’ll kill you. ” These words quoted in the book are from Emir, a clandestine fisherman as defined by Italian authors.

The base of its businesses are the Querquenes Islands, in the eastern part of Tunisia, in front of Sfax. It is one of the busiest places for migrants and refugees who dream of reaching Europe. Italy is a stone’s throw away: just 64 miles separate Tunisian territory from the tiny island of Lampedusa . Emir (fictitious name) has been at sea for 35 years. He has never left his archipelago -with the exception of the comings and goings to Lampedusa-, but he has caused thousands of people to emigrate since 2007. In his fishing boat, up to 40 passengers are crammed. Customers have to pay in advance. The fee is about 2,000 dinars (almost 600 euros), in exchange for a trip in which being beaten, tied and intimidated is the order of the day.

The Siberian Aleksandr does not hesitate to proclaim himself the best in his work. It premiered in 2011, when it sailed from Marmaris (Turkey) without knowing anything about the travel plan or knowing the identity of its bosses or the customers it would have taken aboard the luxury yacht entrusted to it. He received some coordinates that took him to a rocky area along the coast, without a town or harbor, in the total darkness of the night. More than 30 men between the ages of 17 and 25, Afghans and Iraqis, huddled in the boat to head for Apulia (in southern Italy).

“The center of gravity has to be as low as possible. They can not move [from the deck], even if they vomit. I am implacable with them, they have to keep quiet and listen to me, “says Aleksandr. “I’m his only hope. I could have given the rudder to one of them, take the boat and return. I could have abandoned them to their fate, but I can not stand the idea of ​​putting such a big risk on defenseless people, it would be a crime. I believe that Moses was the first guide for migrants in history. I am like him: I am Moses. “

Kabir, in northern Pakistan, is also convinced that his is a social task. “The offers that reach me are really countless, everyone wants to come to Italy, more than 100,000 could enjoy my services. Yes, because in the end I help people. I turn dreams into reality, one in particular: change your life, leave a horrible place and come to a European country to live well “.

PM is a priest, although he never officially sworn the vows. And he is also the boss of the contraband between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Europe, an activity he leads from Kampala (Uganda) between mass and mass. He himself had to flee from the horrors of the conflict in the DRC and take refuge in the neighboring country. It is estimated that so far it has helped at least some 1,000 Congolese to reach Uganda and build a new identity and a story to tell the authorities of the host country and thus obtain refugee status.

“One imagines the trafficker as a bad guy who caresses his cat, but they are kind, very social and social people, with a great presence on social networks.” Perhaps discovering this side of his personality has been what surprised me the most while writing the book, “says Musumeci. “You’re sitting with him in a bar, he smiles, he talks football, he’s informed about international politics, he looks like a businessman like everyone else.”

Human Trafficking The Biggest Illegal Travel Agency In The World

The goose that lays the golden eggs

The UN estimates that the annual benefit of those who traffic with humans from Africa and to Europe is 150 million dollars. People, the authors argue, are worth less than drugs. “If a migrant truck is lost in the Sahara desert and customers have already paid for the route, who cares? If, on the other hand, I lose a game of cocaine I will have very serious problems. The offer of people who want to go to Europe, to the US … is inexhaustible. “

“Traffickers are the tribute to creativity, Europe is very slow, but traffickers adapt to changes very quickly. Their talent is based on continuous observation of the market and reality to always find new solutions for the business. They represent a dynamic startup , “says Musumeci.

“People have always been displaced and these flows can not be stopped.” To avoid trafficking in human beings, we must offer different answers: Governments do not respond and traffickers do, if we started to create humanitarian corridors on a large scale, would remove the business the smuggling of migrants is a shaded area and it is thought that if you stop the migrants solves the problem, but it is not true, we are not dealing with the real problem. “


Luxury yachts, sailing yachts and motor yachts are one of the stratagems employed by human traffickers so as not to attract the attention of the authorities. Migrants hide under the roof, where it is more difficult for aircraft and surveillance helicopters to detect them.

Among the techniques most used by traffickers to hide their customers in road trips is to create spaces with double bottom inside the cabins of vehicles or cargo compartments. Another trick is to make a small cubicle inside the seat, empty the fill, or create double bottoms in the trucks.

On occasion, migrants become happy families traveling through Europe, thanks to false passports.


Source: El Pais