Asylum Seekers Arrested for Selling Drugs in Front of Schools While Posing as Minors

ROME, ITALY - DECEMBER 23: Carabiniere (Italian Special Police) stand in front of the Swiss Embassy after a parcel bomb exploded this morning on December 23, 2010 in Rome, Italy. A 53-year-old Swiss national seriously injured his hands as he opened the package. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Franco Origlia/Getty

Six asylum seekers in the Italian city of Savona have been arrested for attempting to sell drugs to children outside schools in the city and posing as minors.

The arrests came as part of a crackdown on drug trafficking by police in the northwestern Italian region of Liguria named operation “Piazza Pulita” (“a clean sweep”). In total, 10 asylum seekers, some of which were registered as refugees, were caught in Savona with six arrested and four given orders to leave the country, Il Giornale reports.

According to investigators, all of the asylum seekers involved in drug dealing originated from central Africa with the migrants hiding significant quantities of marijuana and hashish in various bushes or burying the drugs where they could easily be dug up when a potential buyer showed interest in purchasing them.

As a result of the operation, police say they were able to confiscate large amounts of drugs and take them off the streets. The case echoes arrests made earlier this year in the southern region of Apulia where Carabinieri officers arrested seven Gambian migrants who were also believed to have been dealing drugs to children.

African migrant gangs have become increasingly prevalent across Italy in the wake of the migrant crisis with entire town crime scenes, like Castel Volturno to the north of Naples being taken over by primarily Nigerian criminal gangs.

Migrant crime, in general, has seen a massive rise in recent years across the country with the Italian Interior Ministry releasing figures earlier this year showing that as many as one in every three reported crimes have migrant suspects, despite only making up around eight percent of the population.

Nigerian drug dealers have also been seen in neighbouring Austria where police in Vienna claimed in 2016 that migrant dealers were behind a 10 percent increase in drug crimes. Police spokesman Paul Eidenberger said that an estimated 80 percent of drug offences were committed by Nigerian migrants alone.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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