Italian carabinieri conducted a large scale raid at a migrant reception centre and found at least six migrants using the centre as a base to sell drugs.
The raids, titled Operation Capolinea, occurred in the port city of Agrigento on Wednesday and lasted for a few hours as carabinieri officers arrested the six young men, all from North African backgrounds, Il Giornale reports.
The investigation began several weeks ago when parents were alarmed by a number of drug dealers operating in front of local schools where their children were enrolled as pupils.
Investigators tracked down the drug activity to a bus terminal, finding that many of the drugs had been trafficked from the Sicilian capital of Palermo by bus. Prosecutors say the migrants, along with a local drug dealer, were turning over as much as 500,000 euros from their drug sales.
Populist interior minister Matteo Salvini commented on the raid and successful arrests saying: “Thanks to law enforcement and investigators in the fight against drugs, crime, and the business of immigration in every city. The fun is over.”
The raid comes only weeks after police in the Italian capital of Rome busted a drug network operating out of a local church in the Torre Angela area.
Five migrants from Africa were arrested during the operation, with investigators claiming the migrants attempted to hide at least two pounds of heroin.
Interior minister Salvini has been outspoken about migrant drug traffickers, stating in April: “A Pakistani ‘asylum-seeker’ has been arrested, caught in Pesaro by the police with 180 doses of heroin! DISGUSTING! All-out war on death dealers! #zerotolerance, get these delinquents OUT of Italy!!!”
Italy is not the only country to see a rise in drug dealing migrants. In the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, police expressed concerns as far back as 2017 that asylum seekers were taking over the local illegal drug trade.