Four alleged people-smugglers have been arrested from a group Gambia and Senegal have been arrested in Pozzallo, Sicily with one of them accused of having threatened to throw her children in the sea after their mother asked for more water for them.
The arrested men were part of a group of 124 migrants, including 30 women and seven children migrants who landed in Pozzallo on Monday after being rescued on a day earlier from a wooden vessel some 30kms off the Libyan west coast.
They are Drammeh Lamin, 39, Faye Tidiane, 41 both from Senegal and Manneh Baboucarr 18 and Trawally Sulayman 19 from Gambia.
They are expected to be charged with people smuggling, primarily for steering and manning the boat on instructions from Libyan smugglers. Lamin, however, is being accused by a woman on board the boat he was captaining that he threatened to throw her children in the sea when she begged him for more water for them.
The group is believed to have left from Sabratha west of the capital Tripoli on the night between Saturday and Sunday around 1am reached the rescue zone and ten hours later, where most of the European rescue vessels operate.
Most of migrants on board were dehydrated before they left Libya because they had been in a holding camp with minimal food or water for almost two weeks.
They men were arrested by the Ragusa Police shortly after their landing and are expected to be charged tomorrow. The arrest comes after last week, Palermo state police announced the arrest of five people-smugglers from Libya, Algeria and Tunisia who manned the vessel that capsized on August 5, leaving more than 200 people feared dead.
Italy has declared war on people-smugglers. So far this year, the province of Ragusa alone arrested 89 suspects. In many case, Italian police sources told Migrant Report, the people being held are migrants who agree to man the vessel in exchange for a few hundred dollars or a free ride.
However, the country’s anti-mafia unit is also conducting more probing investigations into the masterminds of the transnational network. In June, the unit issued indictments against against 24 African human traffickers going after a ring that runs into tens of millions of euros every year and spans several countries including Ethiopia, Eritrea, Libya and Italy.