A court in Sicily on Monday convicted 20 Somalis who had received political asylum in Italy of a role in a vast criminal organization focused on migrant-smuggling.
Prosecutors in Catania said that the defendants were part of an international migrant-smuggling ring that demanded `’large sums of money” from migrants from Kenya and Somalia to enter Italy. They then helped them continue their journey to destinations in northern Europe, especially Sweden.
Their convictions bring to 42 the number of people found guilty of involvement in the same smuggling ring, which was operating throughout Italy.
Italy, which has saved some 200,000 migrants at sea since the beginning of 2014, has sought to crack down on human traffickers to help deal with the huge influx of migrants reaching its shores.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday joined Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on a brief visit to an Italian navy ship involved in border control operations in the Mediterranean Sea.
Renzi told Italian news agency ANSA that the visit underscores that “the entire international community is aware that this is a global problem and not a question that regards one country.”