Europol announced on Wednesday, May 17 that it had dismantled a criminal network illegally facilitating the entry of people to the European Union.
Operation “Yoghi” began in 2015 when police in Spain arrested a man for trafficking counterfeit documents between Madrid and Athens. The investigation uncovered a larger network operating throughout the European Union.
On March 28, police in Spain and Greece arrested eight people, including the leader of the gang. Homes were searched in Madrid, Athens and Brussels, yielding €100,000 in cash and documents, data storage devices, mobile phones and money transfer receipts.
Most of the people who entered Europe with the false documents were from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, according to Europol. The gang allegedly charged between €2,000 and €3,000 for each counterfeit passport or visa.
Spain’s Policia Nacional said payments were made through third parties using money transfer companies.
The leader of the network is a Syrian national who alternated his residence between Spain and Belgium, Europol said. His brother operated in Greece, where the network also had a laboratory for making fake documents.
Europol said the most commonly counterfeited documents are ID cards, but genuine passports are also abused.