An investigation by the Naples prosecutor's office into an illegal ring that provided stay permits to migrants ended in the arrest of seven people. Those arrested included a police officer currently working in the immigration office at the Naples police station, three of his colleagues or ex-colleagues, three Algerian migrants, two Tunisians, and one Chinese.
The criminal group allegedly sold the permits for as much as 3,000 euros each. The investigation found at least 136 cases of permits issued or renewed by the ring. In a wiretap, however, one of the men under investigation said: "we've let thousands of them in."
The arrests were carried out by the Naples finance police's GICO organized crime investigative squad. Of the seven arrests, two are on house arrest. Ten people were under investigation in total. Officers also carried out dozens of home searches as part of the investigation by the Naples DDA anti-mafia squad, led by prosecutors Catello Maresca and Maria Di Mauro.
Probe started after a 2016 tip
Investigators discovered the stay-permit ring while on the trail of Islamic terrorism. In 2016, the Rome prosecutor's office received a tip about an Algerian man who was making money transfers through commercial money-transfer agencies to locations in France, Belgium, and other EU countries. That tip led to the identification of an Algerian man residing in Belgium who was linked to the ISIS terrorist Abdelhamid Abaaoud, suspected of being one of the organizers of the Islamic terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015. Abaaoud was killed in a police operation five days after the attacks.
A network for false stay permits
Through a reconstruction of the movement of the money, a network for false stay permits was uncovered. Investigators turned up diaries with price lists that quoted 50 to 100 euros for information and up to 3,000 euros for issuing a stay permit using fake residences. There were 330 stay permit applicants whose residence addresses were located in the Santa Maria del Pianto cemetery in Naples.