20 Nov 2019 17:01

Italian police arrest 2 Ukrainians for assisting illegal migration

KYIV. Nov 20 (Interfax) - The Ukrainian State Border Guard Service has received confirmation, citing information provided to Europol about a vessel that could have been used for illegal transportation of migrants, that the Italian coast guard had found a yacht with undocumented migrants aboard.

"The vessel was found in the Roccella Ionica bay. The small vessel was carrying up to 74 passengers, who said they were citizens of Iraq. The crew of the yacht consisted of two Ukrainians born in 1980 and 1988. The Italian police arrested our fellow countrymen for assisting illegal migration," the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said in a report posted on its website on Tuesday.

Operatives from the Azov-Black Sea regional directorate of the State Border Guard Service have recently exposed an organized group of people who illegally transported migrants and narcotic substances from Turkey to the EU countries.

Criminals in Ukraine built small vessels, forged registration documents, and recruited people who had financial problems, involving them in illegal activities. Ukrainian law enforcement officials detained members of the group in late October. A yacht was detained at sea not far from Kherson, the Interior Ministry said.

"Experience shows that the organizers are not very interested in the future of illegal immigrants or vessels. They treated them as expendable material, which has already brought certain profits and can be detained by law enforcement agencies or even suffer shipwreck. They did not care about the recruited sailors, either. For instance, some 300 Ukrainians are serving prison terms in Greek prisons for such crimes," the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said.

According to the ministry, the transportation of illegal migrants is punishable by 20 to 280 years in prison in Greece and up to five years in prison in Italy.