U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) last month sanctioned six men who authorities say operated a brutal human smuggling ring in war-torn Libya.
Ermias Ghermay, Musab Abu Grein, Abd al-Rahman Milad, Mohamed Koshlaf, Abd al-Razzak Fitwi, and Ahmed Dabbashi all stand accused by the U.S. government of being involved at the highest level of an international ring of human smuggling. Per the government, migrant smuggling is an exceedingly financially rewarding pursuit in Libya, and it plays havoc with the society of a country in transition after the overthrow of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The accusations of neglect and brutality leveled against the six men include claims that they knowingly and intentionally set migrants adrift on the Mediterranean Sea on craft that are grossly unsafe and unsuited to the duties asked them. Ghermay allegedly organized a trip into the Med on such a boat that ultimately sank and led to the loss of 366 souls in the fall of 2013.
Additionally, the group is said to operate migrant detention centers in Libya that are appallingly inadequate for such purposes, with charges of severe overcrowding, lack of food, and no access to proper medical care. Koshlaf and Milad allegedly operate such a center where several migrants were killed and several more injured when shot by guards in an escape attempt. A center Fitwi is accused of operating allegedly holds migrants for ransom, releasing select migrants only after such steep tolls are paid.
The action by the Treasury Department, which was done in conjunction with the United Nations, prohibits others for engaging in business with any member of the group and any entities owned by those men. The entirety of the U.S.-based assets they may have are considered to be frozen, and such assets must be reported to the O.F.A.C.