A still frame from an Italian police video showing an operation to break up a criminal network that facilitated illegal immigration from Ghana to Italy | Photo: ANSA/Police press office
A still frame from an Italian police video showing an operation to break up a criminal network that facilitated illegal immigration from Ghana to Italy | Photo: ANSA/Police press office

Italian authorities broke up a network facilitating illegal immigration from Ghana to Italy that involved a government official in the African country. Police said the official provided migrants with a handbook that explained how to get through border checks, as well as Italian language courses for payment.

An organization with a contact point in Ghana which facilitated expatriation to Italy and other countries using false documents was broken up by Italian police in Bologna together with personnel from the office of the border police.

On the morning of Tuesday, June 30, police carried out three arrest warrants issued by the preliminary investigation judge at the Bologna Court. The suspects were of Ghanian origin and are under investigation for association to commit a crime aimed at facilitating illegal immigration and document fraud, crimes aggravated by their cross-border nature.

Investigation began last year

The investigation actually began in July 2019 after the arrest of a woman from Ghana who had landed with a commercial flight from Casablanca at Bologna's Marconi Airport. The woman used counterfeit documents for two minors who were traveling with her and who she said were her children.

According to investigators, the network was led by a Ghanian government official working in the country's immigration office who charged between 2,000 and 7,000 euros to provide fake documents for expatriation by flight to Italy and then onward abroad. The arrests were carried out in the cities of Modena and Acerra where the direct collaborators of the organization's leader lived.

Handbook and Italian courses in Ghana

Italian authorities found that the government official in Ghana provided migrants with a "handbook" on how to behave if they got stopped at the border. The first piece of advice was to ask for political asylum.

The official also offered Italian lessons at a cost of 100 euros each to teach words that would be useful during border checks. The government official is considered to be the head of the organization and is the one who modified passports and documents and then provided them to those who wished to leave Ghana, women in particular.

Notification of criminal charges against the man will now proceed through foreign institutional channels.
 

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