An Iraqi national has been arrested in Liverpool as part of a major international operation targeting people smuggling through Italy.
Ibrahim Ako Abdulla, aged 48, was detained by National Crime Agency officers, who have been working with Italian police, on Wednesday 10 May.
He is now expected to appear before Westminster Magistrates where he will face extradition proceedings.
The investigation, which is led by the Italian Polizia di Stato and supported by the NCA and Europol, has so-far seen 29 people arrested in a series of raids in Italy, Greece, Germany, Turkey and Morocco.
The NCA’s International teams worked with the Agency’s newly launched Joint International Crime Centre (JICC) to identify, locate and arrest Abdulla in the Kirkdale area of Liverpool.
Italian prosecutors allege he is part of a prolific organised crime group accused of smuggling migrants into southern Italy through the eastern Mediterranean using boats from Greece and Turkey.
They would then be moved up through Italy and onwards in northern Europe using buses, trains and taxis.
NCA International regional manager Pete Oldfield said:
“This is a significant and ground-breaking operation by the Italian authorities targeting an international people smuggling network operating in multiple countries.
“We work alongside our Italian colleagues at every opportunity and an alleged member of the group who we found to be resident in the UK will now face the courts in Italy.
“Tackling organised immigration crime is a priority for the NCA, and operations like this show that with our partners we can have an impact on those criminal groups operating upstream and overseas.”
The JICC launched last month. It drives, co-ordinates and supports the response of UK law enforcement to international crime.