Authorities in Italy busted a human smuggling network offering "luxury trips" for migrants hoping to reach Europe from Africa, according to reports.
The international syndicate consisted of suspects operating in Tunisia as well as the Italian island of Sicily, specifically in the cities of Canicattì and Marsala, officials say.
The group reportedly organized crossings of the Mediterranean Sea via high-speed dinghies typically traveling from Tunisia to Sicilian coastal areas, while "guaranteeing the security and confidentiality of people fleeing North African authorities," ANSA reports, citing police in Agrigento.
"The 10 alleged members of the group are accused of favoring illegal immigration. An unspecified number of members are also suspected of close connections with international terrorist organizations, investigative sources have revealed."
Investigators identified the suspected leaders of the network as being two 51-year-old Tunisian men and a 46-year-old man from Canicattì.
Another male of unnamed nationality is believed to have been responsible for securing, maintaining, and driving the boats.
Clientele typically consisted of groups of North Africans who could pay for relatively "high cost" journeys to European soil.
"The service offered allegedly did not end with the landing but included forms of assistance aimed at guaranteeing the permanence of migrants on Italian territory," sources told ANSA.
As we celebrate our independence this year we must remember that the 1973 film Soylent Green took place in 2022.
(PHOTO: Jesus Hellin/Europa Press via Getty Images)