According to a former smuggler, migrants traveling from Africa to Europe who cannot pay their transportation fees are often sold to organ traffickers who kill them and harvest their organs.
This information was given to Italian police by Nuredin Wehabrebi Atta, a former senior human smuggler who was arrested back in 2014 for his role in a nefarious smuggling ring. He was found guilty and was sentenced to serve five years in jail.
But according to the Independent, Atta decided to become a state informant and give information on his former colleagues after growing horrified by the stories of death surrounding migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.
“I decided to work [with the State] because there were too much death,” explained Atta to his local court back in May. “In fact, the number of death which you are aware of is only a fraction; as many as eight out of ten families in Eritrea have been victims because of migration.”
According to the repentant smuggler, his group ferried refugees from Northern Africa to Europe, but that was not their entire business.
“Sometimes the migrants do not have the money to pay for the trip,” said Atta to a local media source. “I was told that those people who cannot pay are delivered to the Egyptians for a sum of about €15,000 ($17,000) each. In particular, these Egyptians are equipped for harvesting organs.”
It's been claimed that these men then kill the migrants and use their organs to perform illegal transplants.
The number of migrants who've died in the reported organ-harvesting business is not known.
But with the help of Atta’s testimony, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano has said that the authorities have been able to deal “a harsh blow” to Atta’s former criminal network. Back in June, more than €530,000 (about $587,000) in cash was recovered from a perfume shop believed to be the group’s cell of operation in Rome, which also appears to be its hub of financial transactions.
On Monday, Atta’s testimony led police to arrest 23 men. Warrants were issued for 15 more reported members who were allegedly part of the smuggling ring.