Syria

A human trafficker who was arrested by security forces in Italy explained the cost structure a that migrants departing from North Africa to Europe must pay in order to be smuggled on a boat.

The boats that consist of the human smuggling market of North Africa to Italy are usually retired fishing boats that are in bad conditions. The migrants first must pay between $1,000 to $2,500 to reserve a spot on the boat. That fee is simply to have a spot on the boat. The migrant must them pay for all charges and expenses while on the boat. According to the trafficker, a life jacket costs $200. Bottles of water and cans of tuna costs up to $100. The “first class” section of the boat, which is located on the top deck and not being crowded into the ship’s hull costs $200 to $300. Blankets and rain coats costs $200. Pregnant women must pay $150 for catheters because many consider the urine of pregnant women to be poisonous. Use of the satellite phone for a few minuets costs $300. And children who are making the journey without parents are charged $1,500.

Between January and June 2014, security forces in Italy estimate that over 43,000 people have reached the Italian shores, an increase of 835 percent from the same period in 2013. In a single weekend at the end of May, a total of 3,162 migrants from Syria and North Africa were seized on 11 fishing boats off the coast of Sicily.

Source:  Barbie Latza Nadeau, “Confessions of a Human Trafficker Who Smuggled Desperate Migrants Into Europe,” Daily Beast, June 5, 2014.

Security Agencies guarding the borders of the European Union detected 107,000 people who were attempting to illegally enter the EU in 2013.

The number of people detected by security forces was higher than the 75,000 people detected in 2012.

Intelligence officials stated that most of the people attempting to be smuggled into the EU or illegally enter the EU in 2013 were from Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.

Source:  Alan Cowell and Dan Bilefsky, “European Agency Reports Surge in Illegal Migration, Fueling a Debate,” New York Times, May 30, 2014.

An artifact smuggler was quoted in the media as saying that the ability to smuggle ancient artifacts and antiques from historic sites in Syria has become easier and more rampant since the start of the violent civil conflict.

According to the report, artifact such as vases, silver coins and ceramic figures are all being looted from sties such as the Palmyra. Previously, smugglers had to evade security and intelligence officers in Syria when looting at protected sites. With security forces dealing with the conflict, the professional smugglers and newer amateur looters are able to loot the ancient city.

In an example of the market, one smuggler was offering a ceramic vase from the Idlib Province. Originally, the smuggler offered the vase for $500, but eventually sold it for $150. In another example, smugglers wanted to sell three items for $3,200. They were able to sell a sliver coin for $200.

In general, most of the items are being sold for $300 to $400.

(More information about looting and antique smuggling.)

Source:  Dominique Soguel, “Syrian smugglers enjoy a free-for-all among ancient ruins,” Christian Science Monitor, April 27, 2014.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) that is fighting in Syria is estimated to be collecting over $1 Million a month from extortion rackets in Northern Iraq.

According to intelligence from security agencies, the group has expanded on collecting payments from businesses and shop owners since late 2012 and into 2013. The group runs its extortion rackets in the city of Mosul.

In an example of the type of demands made, a computer repair shop owner was told to pay $114,000 for jihad, according to a report in NPR. The group would call the man and tell him to leave the money in a bag. The man never saw the individuals, and was threatened that the ISIS has many people working for them to kill those that do not pay the extortion fee.

(More information on how organized crime extort money.)

Source:  Alice Fordham, “For Extremists In Syria, Extortion Brings Piles Of Cash From Iraq,” NPR, April 21, 2014.

In 2013, criminal justice programs in the Netherlands investigated 175 cases of human smuggling across the country. The number of smuggling cases were an increase of 25 percent from the human smuggling cases investigated in 2012.

An estimated 1,500 people are residing in the Netherlands without proper documents or visas. Most of these individuals originated from Afghanistan and Syria. Security officials state that most of the people are attempting to continue onto Germany, Scandinavia or France.

The Royal Military Police also investigated 122 human trafficking cases in the Netherlands in 2013. The trafficking cases increased by 10 percent from 2012.

(Price of human traffickers and victims when sold.)

Source:  Mazime Zech, “More Human Trafficking Last Year,” NL Times, March 21, 2014.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, organized crime groups that facilitate human smuggling are able to generate up to $109 Million a year from transporting illegal migrants around the world.

Most of the people that are smuggled are from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and are attempting to enter Australia by traveling by sea across the Indian Ocean. Many of the people that utilize these services are religious minorities who are escaping persecution and attempting to claim asylum in Australia.

There are also cases reported of Pakistani migrants who are smuggled to Europe. According to the UNODC, there have been incidents where the migrants have been caught holding fake id cards and counterfeit documents.

In addition, criminal justice departments in Pakistan have also seen an increase in people from Syria and Egypt using these human smuggling networks to escape the violence in their countries.

Source:  Ayaz Gul, “UN: Human Trafficking Increasing in Pakistan,” Voice of America, January 23, 2014.

According to media reports, a refugee from Syria reportedly sold his kidney to organ traffickers for $5,000.

The broker who arraigned the sale of the organ reportedly received $2,000. The trafficker told the press that he has arraigned 35 black market organ sales.

Previously, another refugee told the press that he sold his kidney for $7,000, while the broker who arraigned the sale received $700.

Selling organs is just one of the many black market activities that is taking place in Syrian refugee camps. Women are offering sex in order to receive money to survive and fathers are selling off their daughters to wealthy men.

(Organ black market trafficking.)

Source:  John Johnson, “Syrian Refugees Selling Their Organs to Survive,” Newser, January 21, 2014.

According to media reports, the price to buy a tablet of Captagon in Syria is between $5 to $20.

The market for Captagon in the Middle East has increased in recent years as the war in Syria has continued. Criminal justice officials believe that Syria produced the most Captagon tablets in 2013, surpassing Lebanon as the main producer of the amphetamine tablet in the Middle East.  Drug traders estimate that up to 90 percent of the production in Lebanon has decreased as the production moved into Syria.

(Methamphetamine facts about users and abuse.)

However, the trafficking of Captagon pills is still high in Lebanon. Security forces seized over 12.3 million pills in 2013, with most of the large busts taking place in areas near the border of Syria.

In May 2013, Turkish security seized 7 million Captagon pills that were on its way to Saudi Arabia, with Turkish security agencies stating that the pills were made in Syria.

In December 2013, police in Dubai seized a record 4.6 million Captagon pills.

Source:  Stephen Kalin, “Insight: War turns Syria into major amphetamines producer, consumer,” Reuters, January 12, 2013.

Government security agencies in Jordan seized 300 percent more weapons and firearms on its border with Syria in 2013 when compared to 2012.

900 weapons, 24 vehicles, and 6 million illegal drug pills were seized while attempting to be smuggled into Jordan.

Along with the black  market items, nearly 1,600 people were caught attempting to illegally enter Jordan from Syria in 2013.

(See the prices of guns on the black market.)

Source:  IANS, “Smuggling of weapons rises sharply at Jordan borders,” Yahoo News India, December 6, 2013.

As the conflict in Syria continues, refugees continue to turn to the black market in order to survive and generate money. It was previously reported that women were turning to prostitution, and the men were selling their daughters to other men.

In November 2013, it was reported that refugees from Syria were selling their kidneys in Lebanon to brokers in order to make money. According to a report in Der Spiegal, a man stated that he sold his kidney for $7,000. The customers who purchased the kidney and pay for the operations reportedly pays $15,000.

The kidney broker who arranges the transactions gets a $700 commission.

According to a kidney broker in the region, there are more sellers than buyers in the region.

(More prices of organs and kidney trafficking on the black market.)

Source:  Ulrike Putz, “Lebanese Black Market: Syrian Refugees Sell Organs to Survive,” Spiegal Online, November 12, 2013.

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