Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Interpol: Somali pirates controlled by syndicates

Pirates operating off Somalia are being controlled by crime syndicates including foreigners lured by the multimillion-dollar ransoms, Interpol and other officials said on Wednesday.

The pirates have also acquired sophisticated weapons and tracking devices allowing them to extend their reach, they added.

”It is organised crime,” said Jean-Michel Louboutin, executive director of police services at Interpol, the France-based global police organisation.

”Certainly, yes,” he told Agence France-Presse when asked if people from outside Somalia were involved in the racket.

The presence of an international armada to police the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden, off Somalia, is not enough to solve the problem, which also has policing, social and economic dimensions, Louboutin and other officials said.

They were speaking on the sidelines of Interpol’s 78th general assembly, which ends in Singapore Thursday.

Mick Palmer, Australia’s inspector of transport security, said there was ”clear evidence” of the increasing sophistication of the pirates, who hijack ships and take hostages for ransom.

”Their weaponry continues to get more sophisticated, their attacks are taking place farther and farther out to sea … as far as 1 200 nautical miles offshore,” Palmer told reporters.

”So they are getting some quite sophisticated assistance in locating big trading ships,” he said, noting their ability to track down the vessels which, despite their size, look like tiny dots in the vast ocean.

Palmer also said ordinary Somali pirates get only a small portion of the average $2-million in ransom paid for each hijacking.

This suggests the involvement of organised crime groups who get the bulk of the money, he said.

An ordinary Somali pirate involved in a successful ship hijack receives a mere $10 000 of the ransom money, he said.

Half a million dollars is paid to people who deliver the ransom, usually by a helicopter that lands on the hijacked ship, and another $500 000 goes to the negotiators, Palmer said.

”So there is a big industry,” Palmer said.

”There’s lots of money to be made from hijacking. But the pirates themselves, many of whom are only teenagers from poor and disadvantaged background, are getting very little of that money.”

Palmer said chasing the money trail of the crime groups involved is crucial to solving the problem as ”no criminals are in business to lose money, they only get involved to get money”.

Apart from the ransom paid, shipping companies also lost an average of $7-million for every hostage-taking, which typically lasts about 70 days, Palmer said. — AFP

 

AFP

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Hawkish Reserve Bank sees South Africa edge towards a rates...

Analysts say the Reserve Bank could start tightening monetary policy as early as next month

Coko vs S ruling: The case against a subjective test...

Acting judge Tembeka Ngcukaitobi’s acquittal of a rape suspect has raised controversy, but legal experts say the fault lay with legislators and not the court

More top stories

Hawkish Reserve Bank sees South Africa edge towards a rates...

Analysts say the Reserve Bank could start tightening monetary policy as early as next month

Lucas Radebe: ‘My football career began behind my parents’ back’

Soccer legend Lucas ‘Rhoo’ Radebe is a busy man, but he made time in his hectic schedule to speak to Ntombizodwa Makhoba about his fondest childhood memories, how his soccer career began, and, as a father of eight, his legacy

Coko vs S ruling: The case against a subjective test...

Acting judge Tembeka Ngcukaitobi’s acquittal of a rape suspect has raised controversy, but legal experts say the fault lay with legislators and not the court

Defend journalists and media freedom in Eswatini

Journalists are censored through cruel and illegitimate detention, torture and the removal of means to disseminate information to citizens crying – and dying – for it
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×