The EU Commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos congratulated Europol and the Greek police on Thursday for dismantling an 11-member international gang forging and selling fake passports in Europe.”Congratulations to Europol and the Hellenic police for arresting and dismantling international organised crime group involved in stealing, falsifying and selling fraudulent travel documents in Europe. Collectively stronger in tackling irregular migration and increasing security,” he tweeted.
According to the police, authorities arrested at the end of February 11 nationals – six of them Algerian nationals, three Syrian, one Tunisian and one from Palestine – involved in stealing and falsifying travel documents to facilitate the movement of illegal third-country nationals through Europe at a profit.
During the course of this Europol-supported investigation, police officers identified members of the criminal organisation and the locations used to conceal the documents. The group stole documents from pedestrians, passengers on public transport and parked vehicles. The network also cooperated with others who illegally obtained travel documents belonging to third-country nationals. They then sold the documents on at prices based on the type of identity document, the country of issue and matching personal likeness of the original owner.
Members of the group residing in France often forwarded genuine lost or stolen travel documents using international courier companies.
Authorities carried out seven house searches and confiscated 939 travel documents, of which 620 were recorded as lost or stolen in European databases. Policemen also found 30,000 euros in cash, a vehicle, forgery equipment, fraudulent documents, stamps, receipts for financial transactions and a large number of digital devices were also seized.