17:36 GMT +319 September 2018
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    Migrants and refugees call out to Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms workers, after being located out of control sailing on a rubber boat in the Mediterranean Sea, about 18 miles north of Sabratha, Libya

    People Smuggling Ring Smashed as Migrant Death Toll Rises on Mediterranean Sea

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    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)
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    A Mediterranean people smuggling ring has been smashed by British and Greek police following a series of raids on the island of Crete.

    The smugglers treated people as commodities, trading in their misery and demanding up to five thousand euros to transport them across the sea from Egypt to Crete.

    The people would be held in outhouses on farmland and in caves on Crete until money reached the people smugglers in Egypt. After, they would be transported to Italy on rickety boats. It's believed the organized crime gang is responsible for the recent rescue of 60 migrants off the coast of Crete. 

    READ MORE: Smuggling Gang Who Kept People in Caves on Crete Jailed

    "These criminal gangs treat migrants as a commodity to be profited out of — they don't care about keeping them in horrendous conditions or using completely unsuitable or unseaworthy vessels to move them hundreds of miles across the sea," Chris Hogben, head of the UK's National Crime Agency Invigor taskforce said. 

    ​Immigration and border force police officers carried out a series of raids in Heraklion and Chania on Crete, arresing six men from Greece, Syria and Iraq. 

    The men are suspected of arranging the accommodation and transportation of migrants as well as providing them with false travel documentation. They all face prosecution in a Greek court. 

    The number of migrants arriving in Spain has increased by 130 percent in the first seven months of 2018 compared to last year, according to a report published by the United Nations refugee agency. Arrivals increased by 88 percent in Greece but dropped by 81 percent in Italy during the same period. 

    The start of 2018 has been the deadliest to date with 1,095 people dying on route to the Mediterranean, predominantly from Libya to Italy and accounting for one death for every 18 people who make it alive. 

    ​READ MORE: French and Italian Policies Escalating Crisis in Libya — Scholar

    Topic:
    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)

    Related:

    Smuggling Gang Who Kept People in Caves on Crete Jailed
    'Serious Abuses': EU's Anti-People Smuggling Naval Mission Has Killed Migrants
    Tags:
    smuggling, organized crime, people, Italy, Crete, United Kingdom, Libya, Greece
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