A policeman puts tape across Church Street in Enfield on August 8, 2011 in London, England.
Credit: Peter Macdiarmid

Police in Italy have busted an international ring of ex-special forces accused of conspiring to kidnap children involved in custody battles.

A statement from the police said the group used commando-style tactics that "put the child's life at risk," using high-speed boats to bring children from North Africa to Europe and charging tens of thousands of dollars for the abductions.

They also said their investigation found that Norwegian firm APB World Group Ltd. was allegedly charging the large sum of cash to recover children taken out of countries who lost a custody battle.

Parents had been turning to APB World instead of going through official channels to get their kids back.

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Several people have been arrested, including Luigi Cannistraro, Antonio Barazza, Sebastiano Calabrese and former Ukrainian sailing champion Larysa Moskalenko, who allegedly provided the boats.

Warrants were also issued for two Norwegians and a Swede, who are now in custody after being arrested in Tunisia.

The ring's first operation took place in October of last year when members kidnapped a child in Tunisia and smuggled him into Norway through Palermo, Sicily.

The second operation, a month later, was interrupted by police when the kidnappers were arrested and their plot discovered.

The group had another four operations planned in Cyprus, Lebanon, Egypt and the Ukraine.

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