A man is facing extradition on people smuggling charges after being arrested in Liverpool as part of a major international clampdown.
Originally from Iraq, 48-year-old Ibrahim Ako Abdulla, was detained by National Crime Agency officers, who have been working with Italian police.
Italian prosecutors allege he was part of an organised crime group accused of smuggling migrants into southern Italy through the eastern Mediterranean using boats from Greece and Turkey.
Police say they would then be moved up through Italy and onwards in northern Europe in buses, trains and taxis.
So far 29 people been arrested as part of the investigation in a series of raids in Italy, Greece, Germany, Turkey and Morocco.
The operation is being led by the Italian Polizia di Stato and supported by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Europol.
The NCA’s International teams worked with the Agency’s newly launched Joint International Crime Centre to identify, locate and arrest Abdulla in the Kirkdale area of Liverpool.
The Centre drives, co-ordinates and supports the response of UK law enforcement to international crime.
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.”
Ibrahim Ako Abdulla is now expected to appear before Westminster Magistrates to face extradition proceedings.