A Somali-born German was arrested Wednesday in Germany for allegedly heading a 13-man smuggling ring that helped migrants travel from Italy to northern Europe, Italian police said.
With the help of two aides based in Milan, and a network throughout Italy, Maodi Abdisalan Kalif would provide Somali migrants with fake documents and train tickets to Germany, France or Scandinavian countries, police said.
“Kalif was the head of this criminal group,” Tommaso Niglio, a police officer from the southern Italian city of Salerno who led the investigations, told dpa.
The suspect lived in Karlsruhe, the south-western German city where he was nabbed on the basis of a European arrest warrant, Niglio added.
Police first got wind of the ring in April 2015 after interviewing a group of Somalis who were taken to Salerno by the Italian Navy after a Mediterranean Sea rescue.
Ten suspects, including Kalif and his Milan-based accomplices, were remanded in custody, while three were to be placed under house arrest, Niglio said.
Police had not yet completed arrest operations in Florence, Brescia, Bergamo, Catania and Bari, he added.
Members of the smuggling ring were charged with participation in a criminal association aimed at abetting illegal migration, and face up to 10 years’ imprisonment if convicted, the police officer said.