5 Egyptians accused of smuggling migrants direct to Sicily
ROME (AP) — Italian police say they have detained five Egyptians accused of smuggling a boatload of 264 migrants from Libya to Sicily.
The overloaded fishing boat pulled into the Ragusa port Saturday, its third day at sea, and the migrants disembarked and were registered.
Police said Monday that the migrants, most of them from Eritrea, identified the five Egyptian crew who charged them 1,500 euros apiece for the passage.
While most migrants are rescued at sea before reaching Italy, some do occasionally make it if their original boat is sturdy enough.
Overall, migrant crossings to Italy began decreasing in 2017, after Italy’s previous government negotiated deals with Libyan leaders and militias. The numbers have dropped further after the current government cracked down on humanitarian groups operating rescue missions in the Mediterranean.