After the UN last Thursday and France Saturday, June 9, the US Treasury Department sanctioned Monday, June 11, six leaders of networks of traffickers of African migrants who have raged in Libya for years.

These are four Libyans and two Eritreans. The sanctions consist in freezing the potential assets of these traffickers who have multiplied the departures of migrants towards Europe via Libya.

The Foreign Assets Control Office at the US Treasury Department (OFAC) gives impressive details about the activities and the role of these people in the development of this phenomenon.

For the US Treasury Department, human smuggling in Libya has become “a lucrative business that fuels instability by providing funding to militias and criminal networks”.

Sigal Mandelker, the deputy secretary of terrorism and financial intelligence of this department considers that these networks “exploit the vulnerable populations to enrich themselves personally”.

All goods, accounts and transactions of these people in the United States will be blocked; but American sanctions, like those of France and the United Nations, will have only a symbolic significance. They are primarily intended to exert pressure.

Revelations on the networks

The US press release, however, provides astonishing details on the methods and networks of this traffic. Mossab Abu Grain, one of the Libyans involved, dubbed “the king of the traffic” managed to send 45,000 people to Europe alone in 2015.

Eritrean Ermas Germai heads an international network for human trafficking between Europe and Africa. Active for 10 years, he is blamed for the drowning of 366 people in October 2013.

The statement underlines the multiple connections in Libya of these traffickers with politicians, the military and with the militias. Several security officials under the order of the national unity government are involved.

The press release finally mentions the competition between traffickers. This competition has led to shooting at the migrants in the open sea to take revenge on a competitor.

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