The Hellenic Police/Aliens Division of Attica (Ελληνική Αστυνομία), supported by Europol, dismantled a criminal network involved in the production and dissemination of counterfeit documents. The criminal group disseminated forged IDs to other groups involved in migrant smuggling.
The action day on 1 and 2 June led to:
- 8 suspects arrested (3 South Sudanese, 1 Eritrean, 1 Iraqi, 1 Nigerian, 2 Ivorian)
- Seizures of 362 forged documents (153 passports, 156 ID cards, 42 residence permits, 11 asylum documents), 118 passport covers, printers and various relevant materials, electronic equipment and EUR 3 995 in cash
From Egypt to the EU with fake Schengen visas
The investigation, initiated in March 2021, targeted a criminal network involved in document fraud and migrant smuggling and identified 14 suspected members of the group, mainly nationals of African countries. The members of this very well organised criminal group had clearly defined roles and tasks: forgers, smugglers, intermediaries or associates. The investigation into their activities uncovered that the gang had established a print shop in Athens for the forgery of travel documents supplying the black market for migrant smuggling services. The criminal group sold fake documents to other criminal networks, or used them to smuggle migrants from Egypt towards Greece and on to other EU destinations.
The investigation identified two smuggling routes: from Egypt to Greece with the use of falsified Schengen visas on African passports, and from Egypt through countries in the Western Balkans towards the EU. To date, the investigators have identified 195 criminal cases, more than 565 falsified documents and 66 migrants being smuggled with the use of this network’s illegal supplies. The illegal profits are estimated to amount to more than half a million euros at the very least.
Europol facilitated the exchange of information and provided analytical support. On the Action Day, Europol deployed an expert to Greece to cross-check operational information against Europol’s databases in real time, to provide leads to investigators in the field. The operation was carried out under the umbrella of the Greek National Operational Plan signed by Europol and the Hellenic Police in June 2016. The purpose of the plan is to disrupt organised criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling and to reinforce secondary security controls in migration hotspots.