French, Belgian and UK law enforcement authorities, supported by Europol, have successfully disrupted an organised crime group active in producing false documents for use by irregular migrants.
Europol supported the operation that took place on 8 and 9 March 2011 and led to house searches and a total of 11 arrests in France and 1 in Belgium. The investigators were targeting a French–based Pakistani and Bangladeshi organised crime network which provided high–quality fake EU passports that had been produced by expert forgers in Belgium and France. The travel documents were then supplied to migrants who used them to travel unlawfully to the UK.
One of those arrested in France is a doctor who had been providing false medical certificates to irregular migrants in France stating that the migrants were suffering from hepatitis B and required medical prescriptions. This would assist the migrants in regularising their immigration status in France. For this service he would charge €5000 - €10 000. During the house searches, medicines with a value of €5000 were seized and the templates for false EU identity documents found on computers owned by the members of the network.
The migrants were first smuggled to France via Sweden from Bangladesh. The cost to the migrants for this part of the journey was €12 000.
During the investigation, links were also found to Albanian and Bangladeshi criminals who were advertising ‘services’ to clients, such as the provision of supporting documentation and transport to the UK. The cost for the travel from France to the UK would be €5000.
Europol experts provided technical expertise and operational analysis support throughout this international investigation. In addition, Europol prepared several intelligence reports and facilitated the live exchange of information between the law enforcement teams in the respective countries. The Europol mobile office was deployed in France for the duration of the live operation, with an illegal immigration specialist and analyst present at the coordination centre in Lognes, near Paris.