The Egyptian authorities have arrested 75 people, including officials and foreigners, over alleged human trafficking, the state-owned MENA news agency has reported. The involvement of government officials was uncovered by the Administrative Control Authority (ACA), Egypt’s anti-corruption body, during a 14-month investigation.
The defendants are alleged to have been involved in “bribery, profiteering, forging official documents, counterfeiting, facilitating illegal immigration, human trafficking and embezzling public and private funds.” The ACA pointed out that they were arrested in raids carried out by its own officers across Egypt.
“A team consisting of 250 ACA members raided several hideouts used by the members of the crime ring in Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, Gharbiya, Daqahliya and Kafr El-Sheikh governorates,” the authority explained. Foreign currency, computers and illegal communication and scanning devices were seized during the raids, along with fake seals for a number of Egyptian government authorities and institutions.
In October 2016, the Egyptian parliament passed legislation to crack down on a growing smuggling industry along its northern seaboard. The law imposes prison terms and fines on those found guilty of smuggling potential migrants or acting as brokers or middlemen. It also sanctions prison sentences for those who provide shelter to trafficked migrants, and gather, transport or otherwise facilitate their journey.
In September 2016, a migrant boat destined for Italy capsized due to overcrowding off the coast of the Egyptian city of Rosetta, leading to the death of at least 204 people.