POLICE have broken up a network in Almeria dedicated to organising marriages and common-law partnerships between Spanish and EU citizens and nationals from other countries so the latter could become legal residents in Spain.
Police said they had arrested 12 people of various nationalities as part of the operation, including the organisation heads.
Investigations into the network’s activities revealed they charged up to €6,000 to arrange the marriages and partnerships.
Organisation members would act as intermediaries between the foreigners looking to make their situation in the country legal and the Spaniards or EU nationals, to whom they would offer €2,000 or €3,000 for their part in the fraud. The network also paid property owners for enabling the fraudulent registrations of residency.
During the investigations police identified four Spanish women, a Spanish man, three men from Ghana, and others from Mauritania, Gambia, Nigeria, Morocco and the Philippines who pretended to be in relationships, falsifying documents to back them up and which the authorities require for marriage licences and common-law partnership registrations.
Interviews with couples revealed they had not known each other before, and in some cases had agreed that after a year or so they would request being removed from the common-law partnership register or would file for divorce.
The investigators have sent the corresponding reports to the Almeria Immigration Office to annul residency cards issued to foreigners on the basis of fraudulent relationships with EU citizens.
The police operation was carried out with the collaboration of the Andalucia regional government’s Equality and Social Policy Territorial Delegation in Almeria.