A joint operation conducted by the Spanish Civil Guard and the National Police has successfully dismantled a criminal network from Gran Canaria.
In a statement issued on June 20, the Spanish Ministry of the Interior said that this organisation was explicitly involved in the production and distribution of fraudulent documents to assist migrants in irregular situations to travel from the Canary Islands to the Spanish mainland or other European Union member states, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
The same source also pointed out that the individuals who were apprehended were involved in the forgery of official documents issued by public organisations. They would then provide these falsified documents to migrants, charging them a fee to facilitate their departure from the Canary Islands.
The criminal organisation sometimes even organised travel arrangements and accommodations for these individuals while preparing the necessary documentation. Their operations were extensive, having managed over 60 departures from Gran Canaria.
As the Ministry explains, three individuals have been apprehended in Las Palmas on charges that include membership in a criminal organisation, infringement upon the rights of foreign citizens, and the counterfeiting of documents.
The organisation targeted sub-Saharan migrants, including many minors, leveraging connections established by one of the detainees in the minors’ facilities on Gran Canaria island.
Moreover, during the investigation, a significant number of individuals were arrested at various Spanish airports while attempting to travel using these forged documents.
One notable case involved a minor under the age of eleven from the Ivory Coast who had been reported missing by a minors’ centre on Fuerteventura Island. The minor was intercepted at Gran Canaria airport moments before boarding a flight to Barcelona.
As part of the operation, law enforcement authorities searched for a specific location. As a result, they discovered and seized numerous falsified documents, materials used for committing these crimes, passports belonging to other individuals, currency, electronic devices, and other relevant items.
Previously, the National Police of Spain, in collaboration with the Customs Supervision of the Tax Agency, carried out a similar joint operation resulting in the arrest of 64 individuals.
The arrested persons were found to have obtained counterfeit documents, including driving licenses, passports, and identity cards, intending to facilitate their unrestricted movement within the Schengen Area.
In this regard, the Spanish Interior Ministry revealed that these forged documents were fraudulently obtained through social networks, and all of them claimed European citizenship. The documents were reportedly sold at a price range of €1,000 to €3,000.