OFFICERS of the National Police have arrested 14 people who were involved in people trafficking from Iran, charging €25,000 per person.
The investigation which involved British, Portuguese and Spanish police as well as Europol discovered that a gang was working in Spain to provide fake Spanish passports to Iranian nationals who then travelled to the UK.
The headquarters of this highly organised operation was in Malaga and it was here that the illegal immigrants would stop en route before travelling on to other European destinations where they would catch flights to the UK.
Just one year ago, German authorities detained four Iranians with fake Spanish passports – at Hamburg airport – who were trying to fly to Britain and discovered that the flights had been booked through a travel agent in Malaga.
Spanish officers then followed the cyber trail and discovered that the gang had procured accommodation so that as the immigrants were smuggled into Spain, they were looked after until fake documents and flights could be arranged.
As officers arrested 14 members of the gang in Malaga, they gained intelligence that the leader was booked on a flight from London to Sao Paulo in Brazil and after issuing a European Arrest and Surrender Order, British authorities were able to detain him at Heathrow.
Upon searching the premises of those arrested, officers discovered weapons, money, 30 Iranian and 10 Spanish passports and records of a number of Iranians who had been smuggled to the UK.
Subsequent to this, a further 42 people were arrested in Malaga Province as they were believed to have sold their Spanish papers to the gang for figures ranging from €500 and €3,000.
Finally, 44 Iranians were detained across Europe all in possession of fake passports.