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Smugglers charge Iraqi refugees up to $16,000 to enter Italy

Police crack down on immigration scam

29 October, 15:02
Smugglers charge Iraqi refugees up to $16,000 to enter Italy (ANSA) - Trento, October 29 - Police in northern Italy said Monday they have broken up an illegal immigration ring in which criminals charged thousands of dollars to sneak fleeing Iraqis into Europe. More than 60 suspects were arrested in the joint operation, coordinated by the anti-mafia prosecutor in the northern city of Trento and involving police in Italy, Germany, Greece and Austria.

About 1,500 illegal immigrants, mostly from Iraq and desperate to leave their war-torn homeland, paid about $16,000 US to get into Italy, according to police. Investigators said the ring, comprised of Iraqis, Kurds, and North Africans, earned as much as $12 million by smuggling in men, women and children. Very few of them were reportedly granted political asylum in Italy; most have been sent back to Iraq.