Italian authorities have broken up a network facilitating illegal immigration from Ghana to Italy, the Italian news agency ANSA has reported.
The group is said to have a contact point in Ghana which facilitated migration to Italy and other countries using false documents.
ANSA reported that police carried out three arrest warrants issued by the preliminary investigation judge at the Bologna Court on 30 June. The suspects were of Ghanaian origin and were under investigation for association to commit a crime aimed at facilitating illegal immigration and document fraud, crimes aggravated by their cross-border nature.
The investigation is reported to have begun 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 is said to have used counterfeit documents for two minors who were travelling with her and who she said were her children.
According to investigators, the network was led by a Ghanaian immigration official who charged between 2,000 and 7,000 euros to provide fake documents for migration 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 organisation’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 organisation 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 would now proceed through foreign institutional channels, the report said.
Adira Kallo with ANSA report