Officials in Sicily say they have arrested five people accused of kidnapping newly arrived migrants and extorting their relatives for 200 euros (dollars) apiece to free them so they can continue their journeys north.

Wednesday's arrests marked the latest effort by police to undermine the booming human-trafficking industry in southeastern Sicily, where tens of thousands of migrants are arriving after being rescued at sea from smugglers' boats.

Police said they were tipped off to the case by an Eritrean who reported receiving a call from an unknown trafficker. The trafficker said he was holding the man's young cousin hostage and would only free her once 200 euros was deposited in his account. Police said once payments were received, migrants were then bused to Milan.