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Passport forgery Irish-based people smuggling gang busted in international police operation

The criminal network allowed 400 Albanian nationals to gain illegal entry to the UK and the United States using forged passports.

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Seizures made by Spanish police

Seizures made by Spanish police

Seizures made by Spanish police

A EUROPEAN-wide police investigation has broken up a migrant smuggling gang based in Ireland and the UK.

The criminal network allowed 400 Albanian nationals to gain illegal entry to the UK and the United States using forged passports.

The probe began in 2019 targeting the use of certain types of falsified documents by immigrants from the Balkans.

“Eventually, the investigation targeted a criminal network based in the United Kingdom and Ireland, which managed the flights and the reception of the migrants into those countries,” according to a Europol statement.

The European agency said intelligence shared by the US Department of Homeland Security, led to the identification of a “high-value target” in Spain.

“From there, the suspect and his accomplices facilitated the illegal entry of migrants through various airports in Spain and Portugal into the United Kingdom, while providing them with forged French identity cards.”

“The operation in Europe is also connected to three ongoing criminal investigations in the United States.”

Led by the Spanish National Police, in close cooperation with the Albanian Police and other police agencies, 46 arrests were made on 29 June 2021 in Tarragona, Spain.

Seizures included counterfeited documents, financial documentation, records of the illegal activities, electronic equipment, cash and various drugs.

Previously, couriers travelling to Kosovo and Albania to distribute forged documents were also arrested in December 2020.

Four print shops for forged documents in Kosovo were dismantled in March 2021.

“So far, the investigation has led to 50 arrests, more than 400 migrants identified at airports and 1,000 false documents seized,” a Europol spokesperson said.

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