National Crime Agency officers have charged a man with people smuggling offences as part of an international investigation into an organised crime network moving migrants across the Mediterranean from North Africa into Europe.
Update: 24 June 2023
40-year-old Egyptian national Ahmed Ramadan Mohamad Eibd, of Church Road in Isleworth, was arrested by the NCA in Hounslow on Wednesday 21 June, following an operation which also involved Italian prosecutors, coastguard and Guardia di Finanza.
Eibd is accused of organising a number of illegal boat crossings from Libya to Italy – each involving hundreds of migrants - from his home in the UK.
He is due to appear before Uxbridge Magistrates' Court tomorrow morning charged with facilitating illegal immigration.
22 June 2023
National Crime Agency officers have arrested a man suspected of masterminding the smuggling of thousands of people across the Mediterranean from north Africa into Italy.
The 40-year-old Egyptian national was detained in Hounslow, west London, at around 3pm yesterday afternoon [21 June].
The man, who is now being questioned on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration, is alleged to be linked to a number of illegal crossings from North Africa to Italy in the last year.
NCA investigators suspect he was working with people smuggling networks in north Africa to organise boats to bring over hundreds of migrants at a time, and was maintaining communication with criminal associates during the crossings.
A similar crossing last October saw more than 640 migrants rescued by the Italian authorities after they attempted to cross in a wooden boat from Libya. It was taken into port in Sicily.
In another, 265 migrants were rescued by the Italian coastguard from a 20-metre fishing boat found adrift in the Mediterranean in early December. The boat had left Benghazi in Libya.
And in April this year two further search and rescue operations were mounted following distress calls to the coastguard – in each case more than 600 migrants were on board each boat.
The NCA has worked closely with Italian prosecutors and the Italian Guardia di Finanza as part of the investigation.
Darren Barr, Senior Investigating Officer at the NCA, said:
“People smuggling is an international problem and tackling this at every step of the route is a priority for the NCA.
“We suspect this man has been running his operation from the UK, and masterminding the smuggling of thousands of migrants.
“The type of boats organised crime groups use for crossings are death traps, and sadly many people have died after incidents in the Mediterranean, which demonstrates the level of danger.
“We will continue to share intelligence and take action with partners to prevent crossings and arrest people smugglers here and overseas.”