British police said Saturday they had charged an Egyptian man accused of masterminding the smuggling of migrants across the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe, following an international investigation.
Officers from the UK's National Crime Agency arrested Ahmed Ramadan Mohamad Eibd, 40, near his west London home on Wednesday, after a probe which also involved Italy's prosecutors, coastguard and financial crimes investigators.
Eibd appeared in a west London magistrates' court early Saturday, where he was charged with facilitating illegal immigration.
The court ordered him held in custody until his next appearance at Southwark Crown Court in south London on July 24.
He is suspected of masterminding, from his home in the UK, the smuggling of thousands of people across the Mediterranean from Libya into Italy.
The NCA alleges he worked 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.
Several of the journeys led to search and rescue operations by Italian authorities, the UK police agency noted, calling the boats used "death traps".
"People smuggling is an international problem and tackling this at every step of the route is a priority for the NCA," Darren Barr, senior investigating officer at the NCA, said.
"The type of boats organized 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," he added.
"We will continue to share intelligence and take action with partners to prevent crossings and arrest people smugglers here and overseas."