MILAN (Reuters) – A suspected migrant trafficking boss was arrested in Ethiopia after two years on the run and has been extradited to face justice in Italy, Italian justice ministry sources said on Tuesday.
Temesghen Ghebru Ghebremedhin, 35, is “considered a key member of a vast transnational organisation dedicated to smuggling migrants from North Africa to Europe”, one of the sources told Reuters.
The Eritrean suspect, who is charged with international organised crime membership and abetting illegal migration, was apprehended at Addis Ababa airport.
Judges in Palermo, Sicily, had issued an arrest warrant for him and several other alleged human traffickers in 2020, the sources said.
Ghebremedhin was on Interpol’s “red notice” fugitives list and was stopped while on his way to Australia, where other members of his alleged criminal group operate, the sources added.
Over the past decade, hundreds of thousands of migrants have landed on Italian shores, usually after paying smugglers thousands of dollars to risk their lives on rickety boats.
Italian prosecutors have launched several investigations into the lucrative Mediterranean migrant trafficking business, but securing arrests or convictions has proven very difficult.
(Reporting by Emilio Parodi; Writing by Alvise Armellini; Editing by Mark Potter)