French Border Police, Spanish National police and Europol have cooperated to bust a criminal enterprise engaged in forging and distributing fake IDs and EU travel documents.
After raiding houses across France and Spain, 17 individuals were arrested – three in France and 14 in Spain. Cash, fake IDs and counterfeiting equipment was seized during the police operation.
The majority of the criminals involved are reported to be of Eastern European origin, but operating out of Georgia, Lithuania, Germany, France and Spain.
According to Europol, the fake documents were sold via the dark web and distributed to criminal clients across Europe. These allowed the buyers to smuggle illegal migrants mainly to the UK, Ireland and America.
Reportedly, the criminal network charged upwards of €8,000 per person to smuggle migrants into countries and handle logistics.
According to SchengenVisaInfo.com, these papers were also used to carry out property crimes, as well as drug and human trafficking.
Ireland has long had a problem with illegal immigration, in addition to fake asylum claims, particularly from regions such as Georgia and Albania, as acknolwedged in 2019 by then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Leo Varadkar says Georgia and Albania driving rise in asylum-seeker numbers https://t.co/LYnCZWaQrd
— Irish Examiner (@irishexaminer) November 3, 2019
Notably, neither Albania nor Georgia is at war, despite the high number of asylum claims from these regions.
In the same year Varadkar made these comments, the Georgian ambassador to Ireland said that there were “no political circumstances” for Georgian citizens to seek asylum in Ireland.
“This is confirmed by the fact that 15 EU countries, including Ireland, have put Georgia on the list of safe countries,” he said.