Europol Busts Sham Weddings Idyll in Cyprus

Опубликовано: 01 Февраль 2024

Wedding RawpixelSham marriages are being exploited as a means to gain entry into the European Union. (Photo: Rawpixel, License)

Fifteen people, including four deemed “high-value targets,” were apprehended in a Europol-coordinated operation aimed at dismantling a network orchestrating sham marriages to aid illicit immigration into the European Union, Europol said Wednesday in a statement.

The European police agency reported that 13 individuals were detained in Cyprus, with an additional two – believed to be the principal organizers – apprehended in Latvia and Portugal.

“The investigation into this criminal network uncovered that the suspects allegedly recruited Latvian and Portuguese nationals and facilitated their journeys to Cyprus, where the women entered into arranged marriages with third-country nationals,” read the statement.

The investigation indicated that the criminal network organized 133 sham marriages, primarily involving Portuguese and Latvian women and men from India and Pakistan.

The individuals involved in the scheme, primarily citizens of India, Pakistan, and Portugal, handled all logistics, including buying flight tickets and obtaining passports and other necessary documents, some of which were seized during the Europol-led operation.

The fake marriages were conducted through genuine ceremonies held in various town halls across Cyprus, including those in Aradippou, Livadia, and Nicosia, as outlined in the statement.

“The marriages enabled the non-EU nationals to obtain residence permits from third countries, which they then used to travel to other European countries,” Europol stated.

The criminal group was reportedly involved also in human trafficking and money laundering activities, as well as forcing victims into bogus marriages for immigration purposes.