The Algerian authorities have dismantled an international smuggling network that they suspect was responsible for trafficking people through Algeria to Europe. The network, which had been under investigation for five months, had smuggled migrants from countries such as Syria and Lebanon through Libya, according to police reports.
On Wednesday, an Algerian organized crime agency arrested nine Syrians and six Algerians who were believed to be members of the smuggling network. The group was reportedly transporting migrants through Benghazi airport in Libya, and then taking them via the Libyan town of Ghadames to the border town of Debdeb. From there, the migrants were taken to the western Algerian town of Oran, where they were prepared for a sea crossing to Europe.
The migrants were charged “exorbitant” sums of money for the journey, according to the local Algerian news website Ennaharonline. The police seized about $11,000 and €9,000, as well as currency in Lebanese and Syrian pounds during the arrests.
The suspects were taken to an initial hearing on Wednesday, according to the French newspaper Le Monde. The Algerian authorities have been stepping up efforts to combat illegal migration, with a focus on smugglers who exploit the vulnerabilities of migrants seeking to cross borders in search of better lives. The dismantling of this network is seen as a significant blow to those involved in human trafficking in the region.
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