File photo: ِA boat packed with illegal migrants near Abu-Qir Port, Alexandria,
Egypt, July 2016 (Photo: official Facebook page of the Egyptian military spokesperson)
Egyptian border guards and prosecutors arrested in Alexandria on Friday two migrant traffickers who admitted to organising illegal migration trips to Europe, state news agency MENA reported.
Authorities seized three fishing boats used by the men to carry migrants to Italy and Greece on dangerous trips that cost EGP 30,000-40,000 per person, MENA added. Investigations into the case are ongoing.
In November, Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ratified a law aimed at curbing irregular migration and cracking down on human smuggling along the country's northern Mediterranean coast which has put thousands of migrants on precarious boat journeys to Europe.
While the legislation does not punish the migrants themselves, it imposes jail terms on those convicted of human smuggling or acting as brokers or facilitators.
In September 2016, a boat carrying up to 450 people capsized off Egypt's north coast. At least 202 bodies were recovered from the sea and 169 people rescued.
In March, an Egyptian court handed jail terms to 56 people involved in the disaster.
Around 320 migrants and refugees drowned off the Greek island of Crete in June of last year.
Survivors said that their boat had departed from Egypt. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 5,000 migrants are thought to have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea in 2016, a record figure the organisation described as "a devastating milestone."
In recent years, thousands of migrants and refugees from a number of countries have attempted to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe, with an increasing number departing via smuggling boats from Egypt's northern coast.