By Chris King • 23 February 2023 • 18:04
Image of a Policia Nacional vehicle.
Credit: P P Photos/Shutterstock.com.
As reported in a statement released by the National Police today, Thursday, February 23, the force has broken up two criminal networks in Spain. One was based in the North African enclave of Ceuta, and another in the Malaga city of Marbella.
After the departure of the UK from the European Union, these gangs were allegedly fraudulently regularising British citizens. A total of 47 individuals were arrested on suspicion of belonging to a criminal organisation, favouring illegal immigration and the falsification of documents.
According to the police, the gangs operated from offices in Marbella and Ceuta. Although both organisations had the same modus operandi, no employment relationship was discovered between them. It was estimated that an approximate profit of €1,600 was made for each regularisation.
The only connection was that both presented the documentation to request regularisations at the Office of Immigration of Malaga. As specified by the Provincial Police Station, the Ceuta office had the collaboration of an Irish citizen who did recruitment and intermediation work.
All of the arrests were made in Marbella, with 42 of them detained over their alleged involvement in a crime of documentary falsification. The remaining five were deemed responsible for both offices – three from Marbella and two from Ceuta.
As a result of information received from the Malaga Foreign Office, an investigation was launched. The police started looking into the suspected links between various law firms and a large volume of residency applications that aroused suspicions of having been tampered with.
More than 200 residence application files of British citizens were subsequently analysed and falsehoods were uncovered in more than half of them. Most involved forged documents, mainly lease contracts, medical insurance policies, bank statements, invoices and other documents. These were used to somehow justify the residence of the interested parties in Spain, prior to the deadline established for their regularisation.
In total, the investigators established the fraudulent nature of 120 applications for residence permits. These were made after the original permits already granted by the Malaga Immigration Office had been denied or terminated.
Among the applicants, investigators detected the presence of at least three persons who: “were criminals who tried to hide in the province of Malaga”, the statement said.
The National Police indicated that those investigated allegedly intended to obtain residence in Spain, using a beneficial route that included the Withdrawal Agreement of the European Union of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland (Brexit).
This was reserved solely for the British who were already residents in the country prior to the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union: “a requirement that they tried to simulate with false documentation”.
As a result of the investigations, it has been proven that all those investigated supposedly: “looked to regularise themselves by paying an average of €1,600 per person for these fraudulent procedures. It was always in cash and in places outside the offices where the members of the organisation carried out their activities”.
House searches were carried out in the Malaga towns of Marbella and Cartama, where police officers located numerous documents related to the plot, as reported by vivamalaga.net.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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