Security


Italy: Human trafficking gang dismantled in northeast




Udine, 18 March (AKI) - An investigation by police in the northeastern Italian city of Udine, the Slovak police and Interpol has smashed a criminal gang that allegedly trafficked hundreds of illegal immigrants from India and Pakistan into Europe.

The operation by the police, entitled 'Goldfish-2' led to nine arrests, two of them in the northern Italian city of Milan and in the central city of Terracina, six in Slovakia and one in the Czech Republic, however one suspect is still at large.

Investigators said the gang trafficked the illegal migrants into European Union countries, namely Romania, Hungary and Slovakia, via countries such as the Ukraine and Russia.

From those countries, the migrants would be mainly brought to the Italian region of Friuli Venezia-Giulia, as well as other Italian regions, but also other European countries such as Belgium, England, France and Spain.

Police authorities said the criminal organisations had established headquarters in the Russian capital Moscow, Italy and neighbouring Slovakia.

Indian immigrants would mainly come from the northwestern state of Punjab and would enter Russia with a valid visa.

The migrants would then be housed in apartments until their transfer to Ukraine, where they would stay at a refugee centre in the southwestern city of Mukacevo before being sent to three refugee camps located in Debrecen, Hungary, Samcuta Mare in Romania and Gabcikovo in Slovakia.

In other cases, the migrants would be housed in apartments run by other criminal gangs in the Slovakian capital Bratislava.

One of the alleged gang leaders was a Pakistani illegal immigrant, Saqlain Haider. Reports said he took residence in the northern Italian city of Vicenza, at his uncle's house, but it is not clear whether he was arrested.

Udine's investigating magistrate issued 10 European arrest warrants for association to commit immigration crimes.

According to 2008 figures released by Catholic charity Caritas, there are about 50,000 legally resident Pakistani nationals in Italy and 77,500 Indian nationals.

However, the number of illegal immigrants from India and Pakistan is thought to be higher.




 

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