The Italian authorities on Friday detained eight alleged migrant smugglers during an operation off the country's southern Calabria region coast on the "mother ship" of a boat intercepted Thursday with 37 migrants onboard. Some 35 of the migrants were unaccompanied migrants.
Eight alleged smugglers were detained Friday by Italy's Financial Police during a complex naval-air operation off the country's southern Calabria region coast on the "mother ship" of a boat intercepted Thursday with 37 migrants onboard.
Some 35 of the migrants were unaccompanied migrants. All were taken to the port of Roccella Ionica.
Rescue operation and arrest
On the morning of June 3, an ATR 42 aircraft from the naval-air operations command of the Financial Police in Pomezia, as part of a Frontex mission, spotted a suspicious fishing boat headed for the Italian coast and that had presumably left from Libya.
The boat was tugging a smaller one behind it. Once it arrived 80 kilometers from the coast of Italy's southern Calabria region, the boat stopped and the 37 migrants were moved to the smaller boat. The larger fishing boat then turned around. An operation was at that point initiated that involved five naval units and a helicopter.
Three units from the naval-air operations unit of the Vibo Valentia Financial Police were asked to intercept the boat headed for the coast between Roccella Ionica and Siderno. The other two, part of the Pomezia naval-air operations command, followed the fishing boat that was trying to make its getaway. The evolution of the situation was monitored with the help of a Roan helicopter that waited for the boat to reach Italian territorial waters, which was essential to enable the stopping of the fishing boat trying to flee international waters.
At 9:30 p.m. on June 3, the migrants were taken in by the Italian authorities and a few hours later the offshore units, about 260 kilometers from Calabria, stopped and boarded the fishing boat. The boat did not have a name or flag and was carrying eight crew members of North African origins.
The boat was escorted to the Roccella port where it arrived in the early evening Friday and where police operations for the arrest of the crew were conducted.
Egyptian and Eritrean migrants
The 37 migrants, of Egyptian and Eritrean origins, were onboard a small fishing boat that was taking on water and immediately after the people were moved onto the motorboat the small boat sank.
All those aboard were taken to the Grazie di Roccella Ionica port where they arrived just after midnight on June 4. Healthcare workers tested them for COVID and then they were transferred to a rescue and initial reception center set up years ago by the local town council.