Home / MIGRATION / Morocco smashes international migrant smuggling ring
Migrants at the Tariq al-Sikka detention facility in Libya. Smugglers take money from their customers for a supposed easy passage to Europe only for the migrants to end up in detention centres in Libya, where they’re subjected to horrendous human rights abuse, or worse drowned in the Mediterranean. Some of the migrants will be reselltled in European countries, according to the EU plan /Photo: UNSMIL

Morocco smashes international migrant smuggling ring

Moroccan royal gendarmerie has dismantled an organized criminal group involved in irregular emigration to Europe through Libya, and in other serious crimes, including kidnapping and money laundering. Safaa Kasraoui reports.

The authorities were after the gang since September 2017, following the arrest of two masterminds of irregular emigration in Beni Mellal, a city located in central Morocco. The two criminals were apprehended for their involvement in a large network that operates at both the national and international levels.

Investigations conducted under the supervision of Beni Mellal’s public prosecutor led to the arrest of five individuals, one of whom acted as an intermediary between the main organizers and the potential illegal immigrants.

The enquiry also revealed the gang’s involvement in a network of illicit financial transactions that collected funds from candidates and transferred them to Libya to be smuggled to Italy. Maghreb Arab Press (MAP), which reported the news said that the total number of financial transactions since 2015 amounted to 3,000 operations.

The police operation led to the arrest of five people involved in the criminal acts. The royal gendarmerie also seized a sum of money estimated at MAD 2.5 million (about 223,000 euros).

The criminals were also taking sums of money from the families of migrants stranded in Libya with a promise to ease their passage to Europe.

The public prosecutor office ordered the detention of all the arrested criminals, and the seizure of money as well as the opening of anti-money laundering procedures.

Illegal immigration has resulted in many issues in the recent years. People wishing to reach Europe, including Moroccans trust these gangs, who in turn take huge sums of money on promise to make them reach the old continent. However, most of the migrants find themselves either stranded in Libya’s detention centres, dead in the Mediterranean or trafficked by human trafficking gangs.

A series of videos circulating on social media feature how migrants stranded in Libya struggle. Many Moroccans shared their videos on social media, calling for help from Moroccan authorities to bring them back home. For those migrants the Eldorado dream has turned into a nightmare, as many were subjected to slavery.

Earlier in December, Morocco succeeded in repatriating 235 Moroccan migrants after an operation in August helped bring home 200 Moroccan citizens.

About 265 Moroccan migrants currently detained in Libya are going to be brought back home soon, the Tripoli branch of the Libyan Agency to prevent Illegal Immigration announced on December 15.

Morroco World News

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