The Hague, 23 November 2016
Today, the Prosecutor’s Office - Anti-Mafia District Directorate of Salerno, Italy, in close cooperation with the Public Prosecution Office of Karlsruhe, Germany and with the support of Eurojust, carried out an operation concerning an organised crime group (OCG) involved in facilitating illegal immigration of non-EU citizens into Europe. A total of ten people have been arrested and three house arrests were carried out by the Italian police (Mobile Squad of Salerno). Simultaneously, the German authorities executed several searches and a European Arrest Warrant against the main suspect, a German citizen of Somali origin.
The investigation started in spring 2015, following the docking of the military ship ‘Chimera’ in the port of Salerno, carrying 545 Somali migrants, who were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Tripoli by the Italian navy. Some migrants were left for three days without water, food and medicines, and were affected by scabies and high fever. For this reason, the OCG members, all of Somali origin, are also accused of harassment and inhumane treatment of the migrants during the journey from the Libyan coast to Italy.
Some of the migrants appear to have been provided with telephone numbers of contact persons during the boarding phase, in order to arrange transport from Libya. The telephone interceptions demonstrated a link to other States, including Germany, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark and Norway. The threat posed by the OCG is clear due to its ability to move huge quantities of cash and the efficiency of its arrangements for the transport of migrants to their final destinations in Europe.
Several preliminary meetings paved the way to today’s results, including a coordination meeting at Eurojust in April 2016, where the Italian and German authorities exchanged information on their respective investigations and agreed on the way forward. In the following months, the judicial authorities kept in touch via Eurojust and arranged for the simultaneous execution of arrests and searches.
Strong collaboration between the Italian and German judicial authorities, including the National Anti-Mafia and Counterterrorism Directorate and the Eurojust Italian Desk, were crucial factors in the outcome of this operation.
For questions relating to the involvement of Member States, please contact the relevant national authorities.