Mohamed BaazaouiMohamed Baazaoui

The Operation Mosaic arose from the investigative developments following the terrorist attack in Berlin in December 2016. Investigations focused on individuals around the terrorist Anis Amri and disarticulated a criminal network involved in the production and delivery of forged Italian documents to irregulat migrants; Anis Amri himself had been a beneficiary years before. The operation is therefore part of a broader investigation aimed at striking criminal organisations dedicated to criminal activities criminal activities, also instrumental to international terrorism.
Within this context, the figure of Mohamed Baazaoui emerged. His profile is linked to the arrest of the Baazaoui (Akram, Mohamed, Dhiaddine, and Rabie), who were accused of participating in a criminal association aimed at document forgery and facilitating illegal immigration. The four have been investigated for crimes under Articles 416 of the Penal Code, as they constituted a transnational association with unidentified individuals residing in Tunisia and France engaged in migrant smuggling. They have also been investigated as they positioned themselves as reference points for at least a hundred migrants, mostly of Tunisian origin, illegally smuggled to Italy. They provided logistical assistance in Naples and then organized their journey to France, manufacturing false Italian documents. Additionally, they are being investigated as they counterfeited certificates and administrative authorizations (driving licenses, vehicle registration documents, residence permits, tax codes), and false documents valid for expatriation (identity cards).
Mohamed Baazauoi, born in Tunisia on 04 July 1996 and residing in Naples, was considered the co-promoter and co-leader of the transnational criminal association according to the investigations. He received calls from the relatives of migrants, organized their reception in facilities in the Naples area, helped them purchasing tickets to reach the border, and manufactured fake Italian documents, including identity cards, citizenship certificates, and driver’s licenses. These documents were then sent directly to France upon payment of money through international currency transfer services (money transfer services). From the intercepted conversations, it emerged that Mohamed was fully informed about the arrival of migrants from Tunisia and was prompt in finding possible accommodation for newcomers in Lampedusa. He managed migrants through a well-established, transnational network that ensured their assistance in Naples and their subsequent transfer to France. Intercepted conversations revealed that Mohamed had hosted a large number of irregular migrants in his home, suggesting that they were not isolated events but rather a system. He expressed his complaints about the number of people because he lived with his wife and children. Furthermore, he mentioned that he would have closed his house because he did not want to have any sort of problem and worked only for his wife and children.
The investigations and information from the DIGOS (Italian police unit for combating terrorism and organized crime) revealed Western Union transactions in October, November, and December 2017, from which Mohamed, along with Akram, repeatedly received sums of money from abroad. In one intercepted conversation, Mohamed revealed the purpose of the exchange and the mechanism for sending fake documents via express courier. In another intercepted conversation on a line registered under a proxy name, used by Mohamed, he speaked with a certain Nourredine about the counterfeit documents to be sent. He asked Nourredine to call him on another specific line, explaining that the SIM card was not in his name, making it safer to discuss these matters. This conversation clearly highlighted that Mohamed systematically and extensively carried out his illicit activities, to the extent that he was concerned about being intercepted by law enforcement or that his number could be traced. The investigations reveal that Mohamed, in collaboration with his cousin Akram, engaged in the same illegal activities facilitating migrant smuggling and illegal immigration through document trafficking, managing a larger client portfolio for the association than Akram. Intercepted conversations showed that Mohamed has also brought the organization into contact with some money transfer services that he used on a daily and systematic basis. Additionally, Mohamed served as a vigilant leader, actively working to expand their customer base through word of mouth among irregular migrants, boasting about the high-quality work provided. In fact, an intercepted conversation with an interested party revealed that Mohamed needed 3-4 days to prepare an indefinite electronic permit for work purposes, and it would have arrived 24 hours after being dispatched.
In summary, Mohamed appeared to be the right-hand man of his cousin and effective leader Akram. He kept Akram informed of all operational aspects, receiving instructions on what to do for each landing, and worked to find accommodations with the assistance of the other two Baazaoui. The association, dedicated to facilitating migrant smuggling and illegal immigration within Italy through boats arriving in Sicily from the coasts of North Africa, was capable of: promptly receiving news of clandestine landings through direct contact with other accomplices stationed in North Africa; establishing contact with the clandestine migrants, initiated either by themselves or by migrants who even before departing for Italy; preparing accommodations and lodgings to welcome newly arrived Tunisians, providing them with support for the time necessary for document counterfeiting; counterfeiting identity documents after taking photos to be applied to the prepared documents, giving them the appearance of regular citizens; organizing movements to other parts of Italy and preparing them for the border crossing from Ventimiglia into French territory; arranging the border crossing with specially hired drivers. For these reasons, a preventive custody measure in jail has been imposed on Mohamed.