Ragusa (Italy), Feb 25 (IANS/AKI) Italian police have taken into custody six suspected people smugglers including four minors that were among 327 migrants who reached Sicily late on Wednesday.
The four minors piloted two of the three motorised rubber dinghies intercepted by Italian coastguard in the Mediterranean after they set sail from the Libyan coast, according to investigators.
The people trafficking gang that organised the crossings recruited the minors in Libya and may have paid them a few hundred dollars for sailing the packed dinghies, investigators said.
The 327 migrants reached the southern Sicilian port of Pozzallo aboard an Italian coastguard vessel after being rescued from the three dinghies in international waters. A day earlier, 207 migrants arrived at the port.
A total of 550 migrants including 83 women and 32 children reached the nearby Sicilian port of Augusta after a Norwegian vessel rescued them off the Libyan coast. The corpses of five migrants who perished during the crossing from North Africa – four of them women – also arrived at the port.