Two Ukrainian citizens have been arrested by Italian authorities on human trafficking charges. Reggio Calabria police believe they rented a sailboat to transport migrants from Turkey to Calabria, investigative sources said.
Two Ukrainian nationals aged 71 and 45 were arrested on December 19 as they were sailing towards Turkey where investigators believe they picked up migrants to take them to Italy illegally.
Reggio Calabria police carried out the investigation that led to the arrests. The suspects, who are accused of belonging to an international criminal organization trafficking migrants, were arrested after they were rescued by port authorities in rough seas, police in Reggio Calabria said in a statement.
From Turkey to Calabria
The two men had rented the sailboat in Messina for 3,800 euros to allegedly transport migrants from Turkey to Calabria, investigative sources said. Investigators said the two men had organized several illegal migrant crossings in the Mediterranean and had a police record.
The 71-year-old has been convicted in Italy on illegal migrant trafficking charges. An expulsion order had been issued against him by Italian authorities and he was banned from entering Italy for five years, investigative sources said. Police said in the statement that the "solid evidence" against the suspects led DDA anti-mafia investigators in Reggio Calabria to ask for their arrest, also considering the "concrete danger" that they might flee.
The suspects are "both considered members of a transnational criminal organization dedicated to migrant trafficking", according to the police statement. The two Ukrainians are currently detained in Reggio Calabria.