Tunisian authorities announced on May 25th that they have arrested a man they suspect to be a leader in a migrant smuggling ring, according to Arab World.
Tunisia’s national guard in the city of Sfax posted to their official Facebook that they had “arrested the organizer of clandestine crossings, who was wanted in 24 cases and had been sentenced to 79 years in prison.” This man was reported to have been mainly involved in departures from Sfax which is a prime spot for many migrants attempting to reach Europe.
This same individual is also suspected of being the person responsible for 20 migrants who attempted to cross the Mediterranean from a city north of Sfax, who ultimately drowned on their journey.
In 2023, the European Union’s border agency, Frontex, saw a rapid increase in irregular migrants from Africa and specifically Tunisia with “a rise of 1,100 percent compared to last year” in sea journeys from Tunisia alone.
The recent anti-migrant comments made by Tunisia’s President Kais Saied on February 21 as well as the socio-economic crisis occurring inTunisia have contributed to spurring more migration attempts.