This Is How Human Traffickers Work: The World’s Most Lucrative Criminal Business

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Traffickers continue to ship immigrants even if rescue NGOs gradually withdraw from the Mediterranean. Mafias move 3.5 million people in Africa, more than any global tour operator.

In terms of number of travellers, the mafia is the largest tour operator in the world. No one moves as many people on the planet as immigration traffickers , nobody determines human flows as much as their implementation in a given territory, nobody has the flexibility to change plans and adapt to changing circumstances and nobody gets so many benefits. We think we know everything about those who come to our shores, but we don’t know anything about who rides the trip.

At the moment, according to the NGO Centro Africano para los Estudios Estralicosicos, 3.5 million Africans are moving from one place to another in the hands of traffickers . According to his reports, there are more women than men being trafficked on the continent. 50% of them are minors. Few of them, only 1% of those 3.5 million, will try to reach Europe. The remaining 99% travel between African countries.

What do we do when we want to travel to an African or Asian country? We go to the embassy and apply for a visa. That’s how it works for us, but not the other way around. What alternative do citizens of many African countries have to come to Europe? If the states do not allow that operation, something comes up that replaces it: the mafia. The more borders, bureaucratic obstacles, closed routes and prohibitions the immigrant finds, the better for the trafficker. In his hands he has a criminal business of billions of dollars, the most lucrative nowadays than drug or arms trafficking.

Immigration journalist Giampaolo Musumeci investigated the phenomenon with Andrea di Nicola, a criminologist at the University of Trento, and wrote their conclusions in Confessions of a person trafficker (Altamarea Ediciones), where they spoke with 10 gangsters. Musumeci tells of his experience: “When you talk to them, like any criminal, they are self-absorbing. At the same time, it is true that they offer a service that nobody else provides. There was one that told me that it looked like a kind of Moses leading his people to the promised land. That line between the criminal and the hero for many people is very fine . “

Some of those traffickers, the most powerful in Libya, have changed tactics. Before, they put hundreds of immigrants in old wooden fishing boats. The objective, very precarious, was to try to reach Lampedusa. Although they were in poor condition and overloaded, these fortune boats were stronger than the current zodiacs , with which they can barely sail a few hours to international waters. In a context of criminalization of NGOs, whose presence is reduced, what does a gangster expect to throw his clients into the sea in these conditions? Two options: rescue or death.

“The good trafficker tries not to lose the immigrants who have been his clients. He has to maintain his reputation. His goal is not to use violence against them, but to bring them to Europe and earn money. But one thing is certain: if they lose a truck with 40 immigrants between Agadez and Algeria and they have already paid, it is not a problem for the gangsters, the same happens with a boat that sinks with 100 people, but if they lose 500 kilos of cocaine or two boxes of Kalashnikov, then they do have a serious problem. That’s the difference. “

The last long period in which there were no NGO rescue boats in front of the Libyan waters (from June 28 to July 8, 2018) there were more than 300 dead at sea. There are tangible examples of wrecks of ghost ships that have not been documented. That proves, first, that the claim made by some far-right parties about the alleged coordination with NGOs is false. And second, that these traffickers do not mind sending 300 people to death in boats whose useful life does not exceed six hours of navigation while they earn huge amounts of money.

“Sometimes it is the refugees themselves, who have been trafficked before, who decide to devote themselves to this. The General , one of the great mobsters of the Mediterranean, was an immigrant rather than a trafficker. Another great trafficker is a well-known Nigerian prostitute who was enslaved by a mafia in Madrid. Now she has her own business, “says Gianpaolo Musumeci.

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Libyan Red Crescent workers collect dead immigrants on a beach. AYMAN AL-SAHILI REUTERS

How are these people traffickers? “Everyone is similar, work in the desert or at sea. They must have many contacts, be credible, creative, charismatic, have the power of conviction, know the routes, the laws, the latest news … They are criminal entrepreneurs, but entrepreneurs after all , “says Musumeci. ” The European police are very slow, but they are very fast, elastic and flexible. They are always ahead .”

Stopping these traffickers, which is the solution that many politicians in Europe offer to regulate immigration, is almost impossible. The trafficker never goes aboard the vessels that he chartered. Live safe and secure in Tripoli, Zuwara, Agadez, Lagos or Istanbul. “The gangster participates in other businesses and is in contact with other mafias. When the vehicles that take immigrants through the Sahara have to return, they never empty it. Weapons or drugs are loaded back to take advantage of the trip, ” he says. Musumeci.

“Let’s think about the Ghost Carguero operation . A Syrian mafia bought scrapping boats in Turkey for a given price. Then they filled it with hundreds of Syrian refugees and threw it into the sea. The first arrived in Lecce, in Italy, in 2014. They bought the shell at 200,000 euros, but for the trip they took a million and a half euros, “concludes Musumeci.

 

Source: El Mundo