Migrant Smuggling Becomes Big Trade in Libya

With all the chaos taking place in Libya, the country has become a magnet for migrants desperate to take the dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

Without a central authority to stop them, smugglers have a booming business where they are charging more than ever before as the demand skyrockets. They then use those profits to purchases boats that are much larger and weapons that are much heavier to ensure their passage is not stopped.

This vicious cycle only translates into many more tragedies on the high seas.

With each boat that leaves from the coast of Libya, traffickers earn the equivalent to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The groups are so sure of impunity that they are willing to operate in the open without any worries.

Many use Facebook as a way to advertise services to the migrants that are desperate to flee repression, poverty and war across Africa and the Middle East.

The smugglers are very well armed often working with some powerful militias inside Libya that are in control of the region and hold the political power.

One officer in the Coast Guard in the Libyan coastal city of Sabratha that is one of the main launching areas for the smugglers said his tiny force could do little to try to stop them.

Recently he heard of a vessel that was about to leave but he would not send his men to stop it. He called that being suicidal, but spoke anonymously for fear of some sort of retaliation from the traffickers.

If there is one factor that can explain the dramatic surge in the illegal crossing into nearby Europe it is the turmoil taking place inside Libya since 2011, when the civil war started which ousted Moammar Gadhafi the longtime dictator of the Middle East country.

As the number of boats increases, so do the horrific disasters. This past weekend one ship capsized and over 800 people drowned, making it the deadliest ever shipwreck in the Mediterranean. Over the last three weeks, more than 1,300 people have drowned putting this year on track to be deadlier than any other.

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