In Libya’s anarchy, migrant smuggling a booming trade

In this file photo taken Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, African migrants cover themselves with blankets, after being captured by the Libyan Coast Guard while on a boat heading to Italy, in a detention center for illegal migrants in Abu Salim district on the outskirts of Tripoli, Libya. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo, File)

CAIRO (AP) — Libya’s chaos has turned it into a lucrative magnet attracting migrants desperate to make the dangerous sea voyage to Europe. With no central authority to stop it, business is booming, with smugglers charging ever more as demand goes up, then using the profits to buy larger boats and heavier weapons to ensure no one dare touch them.

It’s a vicious cycle that only translates into more tragedies at sea.

With each rickety boat that sets off from Libya’s coast, traffickers rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars. So assured are they of their impunity that they operate openly. Many even use Facebook to advertise their services to migrants desperate to flee war, repression and poverty in the Middle East and Africa…