Italian police say Sudan has extradited a man suspected of being one of the masterminds of a migrant-smuggling network bringing people from sub-Saharan Africa via Libya to Europe.

The extradition is the first time that a suspected trafficking boss has been detained in Italy.

Police said Wednesday that Mered Yehdego Medhane arrived in Italy overnight, culminating an international investigation that identified him last year as a principal suspect.

Italian police said the 35-year-old Eritrean was believed to be "one of the principal migrant trafficking bosses."

Mered is suspected of organizing the trafficking of thousands of migrants to Italy dating from 2012. Police said tapped telephone conversations indicated that he paid Libyan officials on several occasions to prevent migrants in his network from being arrested.