Sham marriages in Europe: Ring leader arrested in Germany

27 February 2020
News Article
Press Release/News

A cross-border criminal investigation into Indian nationals entering into bogus marriages for immigration purposes has led to the arrest on 26 February in Germany of the ringleader of the network. 

The Schleswig-Holstein State Police (Landespolizei Schleswig-Holstein), working together with the State Criminal Police of Hamburg (Landeskriminalamtes Hamburg), the Lower Saxony Police (Polizei Niedersachsen) and the German Federal Police (Bundespolizei) with the support of Europol carried out the arrest. Some 175 police officers were involved on that day on the ground and carried out 28 searches of private and commercial premises. The arrestee is a 44 years old Indian national from Elmshorn, Germany.This sting follows a lengthy investigation initiated back in 2018 looking into the activities of this criminal group involved in the facilitation of illegal immigration by organising sham marriages, predominantly between Indian and Romanian nationals using forged documents. The husbands were then permitted to stay in Germany, obtained resident permits and illegally profited from social and other benefits. 

This action is a follow-up of a parallel investigation for which an action day took place in Greece last year. There, the Hellenic Police (Ελληνική Αστυνομία) swooped on a criminal network involved in the massive production and distribution of falsified or forged documents to third country nationals. 4 individuals were arrested in the region of Attica on 19-20 June. Such documents were shipped through courier companies.

These two parallel investigations narrowed down on the same individual in Germany who was receiving a large amount of these parcels containing fake documents to facilitate sham marriages. This subsequently led to his arrest this week. 

EMPACT In 2010 the European Union set up a four-year Policy Cycle to ensure greater continuity in the fight against serious international and organised crime. In 2017 the Council of the EU decided to continue the EU Policy Cycle for the 2018 - 2021 period. It aims to tackle the most significant threats posed by organised and serious international crime to the EU. This is achieved by improving and strengthening cooperation between the relevant services of EU Member States, institutions and agencies, as well as non-EU countries and organisations, including the private sector where relevant. Facilitation of illegal immigration is one of the priorities for the Policy Cycle.