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Nigerian sham marriage criminal network dismantled in Germany and Portugal

These criminal elements were gleaning huge profits by organising EU residency status for Nigerian nationals through these marriages of convenience, Europol said

13 September 2017, 12:51pm
An international police operation supported by Europol has resulted in 50 house searches and the arrest of five suspects.

The investigation, led by the German Federal Police and Criminal Investigations Department of Berlin, in close cooperation with the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service / SEF, was initiated in October 2016 on the suspicion of facilitation of illegal immigration via marriages of convenience, so-called sham marriages.

The investigators identified a Nigerian-led criminal network which was engaged in the facilitation of these sham marriages through the provision of false information and documentation to marriage registrars, thus exploiting the asylum and immigration system.

These criminal elements were gleaning huge profits by organising EU residency status for Nigerian nationals through these marriages of convenience, Europol said.

Today’s action in Germany resulted in the seizure of lots of passports, and documents. A total of sevenarrest warrants were issued, alongside a freezing order by the Berlin Court of Justice of a value of €530,000 out of which €309.950 could have been seized already.

Simultaneously, the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service / SEF executed house searches in Lisbon, on the occasion of which fraudulent certificates, passports and EU residence permits were seized.

Europol’s Migrant Smuggling Centre was involved in this investigation from the onset, providing tailored analytical support and co-ordinating the cooperation between both EU Member States. During the action days, two Europol officers were deployed to Germany and Portugal for on-the-spot support to the national investigators, including real-time data exchange and cross-checks against Europol databases.

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