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Letter sent on Nov 13, 2015

How Do People Smugglers Really Operate?

This Just In

We’ve published a new piece of evidence—one that you’ll appreciate if you’ve read episode 6. It’s the court document filed by Italian prosecutor Andreas Bonomo that was leaked to us, and includes an extraordinary amount of information about the case against the Tokhla smugglers.

We already summarized most of the material directly relevant to the Ghost Boat. But that doesn’t mean we’ve got it all. So, this weekend’s request for Italian speakers: Please read this document and check if there is any information we missed.

Where We’re At

Things have slowed down a little as all the answers roll towards one complicated place: Libya. So—if you don’t speak Italian—how do you help move things forward in the meantime? Last weekend we pinpointed the other ships in the region, and now we’re compiling that list into a shareable format. On Monday we hope to release the information on local ships: the job then will be to identify the crews through a service like CrewToo—the Facebook for seafarers—to see if there are any potential witnesses or leads.

Further Reading

Two bits of useful context for the project. A story in Columbia Journalism Review details some of our motivations, meanwhile an interview with Eric Reidy by the 19 Million Project has a good overview of what we’re doing too.


An incident with “striking similarities” is picked up by Ross Whiteford, who asks whether there are any contacts at UNHCR or elsewhere who might be able to cast any more light. Good question to chase.

Jamie Talbot asked another pertinent one: “If Ghost Boat is an ongoing investigation, how do you know there will only be 8 chapters?” The answer is… we don’t. Eight episodes was what we originally budgeted time for—to see how far and how close could we get to the truth inside that timeframe. As we draw closer to finding out what happened, perhaps we’ll go longer.

But if anyone was concerned that we weren’t being straight—that we had an eight episode arc prepared before we started—then don’t worry. Things have been close-to-live from the beginning and, as time has gone on, the gap between the reporting and what we’re publishing has become very small indeed… and our frayed nerves stand testament to that.


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