In June the European Union (EU) responded to the colossal toll of people fleeing war and poverty dying on its borders by launching an 11.8 million euro ($12.8m) per year naval mission. EUNAVFOR Med was launched to tackle human trafficking from North Africa, a major contributor to the migration crisis that has claimed 2,000 lives in the Mediterranean in 2015 alone.
But while the EU has declared war on traffickers in Libya and elsewhere, another trade is booming on its doorstep. Land smuggling preys on desperate migrants and refugees hoping to escape the EU's Dublin Regulation — whereby people seeking refuge are required to do so in the first country that they set foot in — and illegally cross European borders.
VICE News travels to Sicily, a main stepping stone into Europe, to follow a police operation to arrest suspected smugglers at a boat landing. We also find out about the land smuggling business of taking people from Sicily to northern Europe, and meet a small group of activists helping newly-arrived migrants and refugees avoid being exploited.
In this excerpt from 'People Smuggling in Sicily: Europe or Die,' VICE News meets a former smuggler who provides an insight into the vast network of people involved in the grim business of trafficking, and suggests ways Europe could save many migrants' lives.