According to the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), 165,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean so far this year. That is compared to 60,000 in 2013. Estimates say that 3,000 people have died or are missing at sea this year alone – the actual number could be even more.
Facilitating the crossing is lucrative and the unstable environment in Libya is fertile ground for people smugglers. According to the EU border agency, Frontex, it is estimated that the average value of a boat of migrants to traffickers can be more than $1m (£635,200).
Italian operation, using seven boats, two planes and one helicopter with personnel from the Netherlands, Finland and Portugal.
Ten suspected migrant smugglers were arrested on Wednesday in Italy and Germany, including the alleged ringleader behind a treacherous journey that killed an estimated 244 people off the coast of Libya in June.
The alleged human traffickers, who were picked up in an operation called Tokhla, were all Eritrean. They were charged with conspiracy and aiding illegal immigration. An 11th Eritrean was arrested for harbouring the migrants.
The operation marked a significant victory for Italian police, who said the smuggling ring arranged more than 20 trips between north Africa and Europe between May and September. The suspects allegedly used their network across Italy, including the Lazio and Lombardy regions, to smuggle the migrants to other European countries and Italy moves from sea to streets operation Hunting criminal group.