ESPMI Network

3447 Via Garibaldi in Catania, Sicily, the city has become a magnet for young migrants eager to escape the government-run facilities and try to make their way to northern Europe. Photograph: Alamy

The diminutive figures were lined up outside Catania’s central station. There were seven in all, aged between 15 and 17. They had recently escaped from the massive government-run migrant reception centres inland or further along the Sicilian coast. Now they were alone, waiting for the city’s matrix of organised criminals to take them north.

“We have nowhere to go, we feel safer outside on our own than in the camps,” said Mohammed Asante, 17, from Ghana. Thousands of unaccompanied minors have disappeared from Catania, mostly through smuggling networks.

It is a lucrative trade, so it should come as no surprise that Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian mafia, may be exploiting this latest market in human suffering.

Anti-mafia prosecutors have…

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