Sources cited by Ansa said police fear Italian spouses are being recruited in squats and soup kitchens in Rome by a clandestine network that links them with would-be immigrants awaiting them in Egypt.
The prospective immigrants allegedly pay thousands of euros for these arranged marriages, according to the Ansa report.
The weddings take place in Egypt with Coptic Christian or Catholic rites, after which the foreign national applies for residency in Italy.
Meanwhile, Italian police have arrested Algerian human rights activist and lawyer Rachid Mesli at the Swiss-Italy border after an international warrant was issued by Algeria.
Mesli, who lives in Geneva, is wanted in Algeria on terrorism charges.
He was arrested on Wednesday at the Great St. Bernard Pass connecting Switzerland to the northern Aosta region while driving into Italy with his wife and child.
Mesli, who has defended Islamist torture victims, has been living as a refugee in Switzerland since 2000.
He was arrested in his home country on charges of “abetting terrorism”, according to Amnesty International.
Amnesty expressed “fear” for his safety when he was arrested in Algeria in 1996. The organization said he was detained and tortured for three years, according to Ansa.
In 2004 he co-founded Alkarama (Arabic for Dignity), a Swiss-based human rights NGO assisting all those subjected to, or at risk of, extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture, and arbitrary detention in the Arab world.
A Turin court of appeals will rule on whether Mesli should be extradited.