by Cecilia Anesi

Albanian citizen Sali Huqi, 32, is in custody in Orvieto after his arrest in Umbria Aug. 3 on an Interpol warrant for arms trafficking.

Italian police said Albanian police had sought their help in

Sali Huqi (Photo: Interpol)

Sali Huqi (Photo: Interpol)

detaining Huqi, who had been investigated in Tirana for arms dealing by the Prosecutor’s Office for Serious Crimes. He was originally arrested on Nov. 29, 2011, according to a report published by Shekulli online.

Huqi had been a fugitive since then, living in Italy for at least a year. Police said he moved with his family to the village of Fabro, near Orvieto, where he apparently felt confident enough to register on the Italian social network Coobiz as a carpenter looking for work.

Agents of the Mobile Police of Terni, coordinated by Chief Officer Francesco Peditti, broke in Huqi’s house to arrest him, but found only his wife and daughter. Huqi was apprehended at a nearby cafeteria.

Police said that when they handcuffed him, he was astonished, saying, “I was never stopped by police! Nobody ever looked for me!”

But Albanian police said they had never stopped looking for Huqi, who three years ago fled a major police raid targeting a network of arms traffickers from Italy and Albania. Huqi was the link between two organized crime groups who smuggled guns and bullets manufactured in Italy through the port of Ancona to Albania, police said.

Huqi is currently in the Orvieto jail, awaiting extradition to Albania.

This article was published by OCCRP on August 7, 2014.