Six Algerians arrested in Czech Republic and Greece for large-scale document forgery
With the support of Europol and Germany, six suspects, all originating from Algeria, have been arrested in the Czech Republic and Greece, for large-scale forgery of documents and facilitating illegal immigration.
During the joint action, the Greek law enforcement authorities raided what is thought to be the biggest illicit document printshop ever found in Greece and seized more than 1100 altered or falsified passports, 800 ID cards, 100 driving licences, 65 residence permits, 50 000 holograms, stamps, foils and other equipment necessary for the document forgery, European police agency Europol said.
During further house searches in the Czech Republic and Greece, a number of mobile phones, SIM cards, cameras, computers, hard disks, additional forged documents, large amount of photos and supporting documents were seized.
More than 60 forged documents were also found by the Czech authorities under the child seat in one of the suspect’s car.
The organised crime group was cooperating with a network of pickpockets, who stole passports and ID cards from tourists in the EU, Europol said.
The stolen documents were then sent to Greece to be altered in printshops operated by the organised crime group.
In some cases completely falsified documents were produced. The illicit documents were then provided to irregular migrants, mainly from Syria and Afghanistan, to enable their travel from Greece to Germany and other EU member states, or to legalise their stays.
It is estimated that the overall profit of the OCG for this illegal business was more than three million euro, Europol said.
The six people arrested on October 17 originate from Algeria and have residence permits for the Czech Republic. They belonged to an international criminal network of which 16 members were already arrested in France in October 2011.
On the action day, Europol deployed mobile offices to Prague and Athens to provide on-the-spot intelligence analysis.
The international coordination centre was set up at Europol to support and coordinate the joint action. Throughout the investigation, Europol facilitated the exchange of intelligence, hosted and participated in a number of operational meetings, and provided tailored analytical support to the investigators. Eurojust also supported the investigation.
The operation was led by the Organised Crime Unit of the Czech Republic (UOOZ), in cooperation with the Aliens Division of Attica of the Hellenic Police (HP), and the German Federal Police (BPOL).
During the investigating phase the Czech and German authorities formed a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which was supported by Europol and Eurojust.