ALBANIAN nationals are allowed into the Schengen area without obtaining a visa provided that they meet certain requirements and do not stay longer than 90 days as Albania is one of the countries being considered for membership of the European Union.
For many Albanians, both Ireland and the United Kingdom are attractive countries but as they are not members of Schengen, any Albanian who wishes to enter, must obtain a visa which under normal circumstances would prohibit work and permanent entry.
Agents of the National Police in Barcelona have arrested 126 Albanians at El Prat Airport who attempted to travel to the UK and Ireland with forged Greek and Italian travel documents. Investigations into this type of people smuggling commenced in May of this year with criminals in Milan suspected of making all of the arrangements.
Two criminal organisations were using Barcelona as a transit airport for the smuggling of Albanian citizens to the UK and Ireland. Albanians entered Schengen territory through Greece or Italy with their original documents. Once in the EU, the criminal gangs supplied them with forged EU documents obtained from Ireland or Italy so that they could fly to Barcelona and then onwards to Ireland and the UK.
In this particular operation the National Police, working with the authorities at the airport and British officials seized more than 200 fake documents which included Italian identity cards and passports as well as driving licenses and health cards plus a small quantity of Greek documents.
During the first half of 2016 more than 800 people have been arrested carrying fake documents at Spanish airports, of whom 277 have been at El Prat airport in Barcelona.