As a result of a police operation carried out by the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF – Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras), the Criminal Investigation Court of Lisbon ordered provisional detention for the seven suspects (five foreign citizens and two Portuguese with Hindustan origin) who were arrested following arrest warrants.
This case has been investigated for about one year, under the direction of the Special Unit for Dealing with Violent Crime (Unidade Especial de Combate ao Crime Violento) of Lisbon's Department for Investigation and Penal Action (DIAP – Departamento de Investigação e Acção Penal), in coordination with French authorities and with the cooperation of Spanish police, targeting a group of people that were dedicated to the transportation of illegal immigrants from several EU countries to Portugal with the purpose of regularizing their situation in this Country, using for such end false or fraudulently obtained documents.
The operation took place simultaneously in France and in Portugal, with the monitoring of the European agencies EUROPOL and EUROJUST.
Following this operation there were 14 detentions (seven in Portugal and seven in France) and several search warrants for homes, stores and vehicles. 30 mobile phones and 43 SIM's cards were seized, as well as five GPS devices, personal computers, documents – including evidence of transfer of tens of thousands of euro from criminal activities - and also more than 30 thousand euro in cash. The four ringleaders of the criminal network were arrested in Portugal.
On the course of the investigation – called “Batedores Operation” - the network's movements were closely monitored, and enough evidence of the group's action was collected.
It was ascertained that the group had its own hierarchy and profited from large incomes from the payment of “services” paid by illegal immigrants. The transportation was made by land, in cars and minivans, and had origin in France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy in return of payment of high amounts of money. The vehicles used in the transportation of illegal immigrants travelled separately and were in constant communication. While crossing borders, the column was preceded by a vehicle with only one occupant who warned the other vehicles of eventual police checks ahead.
The searches were conducted on December 14th (Saturday) in Lisbon, Almada and Amadora. This operation involved 55 SEF's officers as well as two French police officers and one EUROPOL's analyst. The operation also had a SEF's officer in France, more specifically in Bordeaux, who monitored the French operation and acted as liaison officer.