Italy Deploys State of the Art Technology to Track Illegal Migration in the Mediterranean

LAMPEDUSA, ITALY - OCTOBER 09: Images taken from a AB412 helicopter with the Second Regiment SIRIO of the Italian Army show Italian Navy ships and the Coast Guard units taking part in a search and rescue operation near the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa for the victims of …
Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Italian authorities have begun to deploy a new specialised camera aboard helicopters to track illegal migration and people smuggling operations in the Mediterranean sea.

The new camera is placed aboard helicopters belonging to the Guardia di Finanza, an Italian law enforcement agency under the command of the Minister of Economy and Finance.

Lorenzo Manganini, captain of the Flight Department of Palermo, told Italian newspaper Il Giornale that the new camera “is both an electro-optical and infrared camera at the same time”.

“The operator seated behind, through a console, can manage the turret that is located in front of the helicopter. With this camera we can get enough advanced videos and photographs,” he added.

The Palermo flight department boasts seven helicopter pilots and a total of 27 staff. The unit deals not only with illegal migration but also with illegal smuggling of drugs and other merchandise into Italy. Along with the high-tech camera, the helicopters are fitted with a radar system that has a range of 160 miles.

In the last several weeks, Italy has seen a surge in new arrivals of illegal migrants in both Sicily and on the island of Lampedusa.

Many of the migrants who arrived, either on their own or transported by pro-migrant NGO vessels, have been quarantined in order to stop the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.

Some of these migrants have been placed aboard rented ferries for accommodation, such as the Moby Zaza which costs Italian taxpayers 4,000 euros per migrant per month.

Alessandro Pagano, a member of Matteo Salvini’s League, revealed the costs of the quarantine of the migrants last month.

“We are not talking about a third-hand dinghy, but of a ship equipped with a self-service restaurant, pizzeria, ice cream parlour,  pub with special wine assortment, play area and video room, double or quadruple cabins with services and even luxury suites. All this while Italian families and businesses are on their knees due to the serious economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Italian authorities could face an increasingly busy summer in the Mediterranean, as according to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report, an estimated 650,000 migrants are currently in Libya awaiting their chance to head to Europe.

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


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