Italian police carried out a major operation across the country to bust a group of human traffickers. The suspects allegedly smuggled migrants from Asia to Western Europe for up to 8,000 euros per person.
Police conducted a major operation across Italy early on Wednesday morning, arresting seven men. Four of the suspects were sent to jail, two were placed under house arrest, and one is now required to regularly sign in with police.
They are accused of aiding illegal immigration, aggravated by transnational operations.
Among the suspects are men from Italy, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. The group reportedly trafficked people from Asia to European countries (France, Spain, Germany, Austria, and Norway), using fake documents and permits. They charged as much as 8,000 euros per person.
One of the suspects is Luca S., a Turin attorney who was allegedly paid to facilitate the process of obtaining political asylum permits.
Referred to migrants as 'stuff' to make money from
Investigators conducted wiretaps, which revealed that the suspects referred to the migrants as "stuff" to make money from.
Col. Francesco Rizzo, provincial commander of the Turin Carabinieri police, said the suspects "took care of providing false documents, false declarations of hospitality, and false applications for family reunification." He said they also presented false requests for political asylum and stay permits in Brescia and Genoa.
The suspects reportedly crowded migrants into apartments in the Turin neighbourhoods of San Salvario and Barriera di Milano, and in some surrounding communities, before they were send to their final destinations a few weeks later.
'Dozens of journeys each month'
"We're talking about dozens of journeys each month," said Carabinieri operations director Giuliano Gerbo. "The shorter distances cost between 400 and 500 euros. [Migrants paid] up to 8,000 euros if they wanted to go as far as Northern Europe."
The investigation, coordinated by public prosecutor Chiara Maina, began in April 2018 after a Bangladeshi man filed a complaint. He told investigators that his sister had been beaten by her husband because she refused to falsify a marriage certificate and documents for two children, pretending they were their own children. During searches, police seized hundreds of false documents and twenty blank credit cards.