A SLICK criminal organisation that specialised in smuggling Iranians into Spain and the United Kingdom has been broken by Spanish authorities.
Police pounced on secret locations in Madrid and Fuengirola, arresting seven members of the syndicate and uncovering €100,000 in cash, as well as 47 fake passports, luxury vehicles and other smuggling paraphernalia.
Charging €10-15,000 per person, the network had allegedly smuggled more than 50 Iranian citizens into the European Union using fraudulent visas and falsified passports. The visas would enable the immigrants to enter the Schengen zone on legitimate documents, and they would then be issued with fake passports upon their arrival in Madrid.
Traffickers would exercise complete control over their charges, forbidding them from communication with third parties and instructing their behaviour at airports through mobile phones. An elaborate protocol was in place to protect the syndicate’s integrity should an immigrant be caught, and threats were made to families at home in Iran should the rules not be strictly followed.
Key members of the group lived in Madrid and oversaw a clearly delineated and hierarchical structure that had specialised divisions for logistics and financing operations, with an entire apparatus in Athens devoted to forgery. The scale of the network, and its highly advanced strategy, required a collaborative effort between the Spanish National Police and the British Risk and Liaison Overseas Network (RALON).