Wars typically alternate between periods of relative calm and intensity. The fight against smuggling in the Mediterranean seems to be experiencing the latter this month. A series of unrelated raids and arrests from Sudan to Bulgaria to the UK have hit the trafficking network hard.
Last week’s operation, led by the Bulgarian authorities and supported by its Turkish and Serbian counterparts, Europol, was particularly successful. In 624 raids across Europe, police arrested 92 of him and charged him with facilitating the trafficking of hundreds of migrants from Turkey across the Balkans to her EU.
Tariq Namik, 45, a key figure in another trafficking network, was arrested in Manchester on Friday after he flew in from Istanbul. Namik’s gang is said to specialize in taking vulnerable migrants across the English Channel. In the English Channel, more than 45,000 people illegally crossed from France to Britain in small boats last year. , suggesting that the majority likely migrated at some point through trafficking routes in Turkey and the Balkans.
But Eastern Europe is not the only route taken by immigrants heading to the western part of the continent. East Africans are a minority of the Strait-crossing migrants, but they are often targeted by traffickers heading to mainland Europe. Their journey across the Mediterranean, usually in small ships, is equally perilous and is often orchestrated by North African masterminds. Earlier this month, Sudanese police, working with the United Arab Emirates Interior Ministry and Interpol, accused Eritrean kingpin Kidane Zecharias Habtemariam, who had operated a huge smuggling network to facilitate travel between Africa and Europe. Arrested. According to authorities, his gang had kidnapped, blackmailed, abused, and even raped immigrants over the years. In one instance last year, Kidane gangs held thousands of refugees and migrants in warehouses in Libya and extorted thousands of dollars from them and their families.
High-profile arrests like this will no doubt boost officials’ confidence that the momentum is on their side when it comes to busting the smuggling network. I’m here. Kidane, Namik and others, who were arrested this month, are important players, but there are still plenty of players like them in Turkey, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. Dealing with these individuals will require continued policing, but also stronger policymaking, especially from European countries where most of the migrants are headed.
The experience of the UK government, which has had a particularly difficult time stemming the flow of illegal immigrants, is a good example. The police have devoted considerable resources to investigating and apprehending smugglers, but have failed to reach an agreement to work more closely with neighboring France to share police resources and conduct joint asylum checks. Repeated events have led to an increase in the number of border crossings. Several Politicians still treat the immigration crisis like football in domestic politics.
Law enforcement successes in January show the need for a very different attitude. When national authorities turn to the reality of illegal immigration, a transnational problem that requires multinational cooperation, they are more likely to win concrete victories.
Published: January 23, 2023, 3:00 AM