The Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) has detained, this morning, in Lisboa, the last suspect of an organised criminal group which has recruited, at least, 50 Portuguese women for marriages of convenience, a group indicted for the crimes of association to assisting unlawful immigration, illegal immigration, falsification or counterfeiting of documents, marriages of convenience and criminal association.
Under the operation “Amouda", which began last Tuesday by SEF, in cooperation with Belgium authorities, three suspects have been detained. They were brought before the Court yesterday, and the provisional custody measure has been applied, at Lisboa Prison. In addition, an attorney has been made charged and a fifth suspect has been obliged to daily attendances at PSP of the area of residence. The woman detained today, canvasser and intended spouse, will be brought before the Court of Loures in order for the proper cautionary measures to be enforced.
In this operation, with the support of Europol and Eurojust, eighteen house searches have been carried out, dozens of falsified documents have been found, several computer equipment have been apprehended (laptops, desktops and other mobile devices), huge amounts of money and drugs as well.
The criminal group was involved in the facilitation of illegal immigration, through the organization of marriages of convenience, mainly between Portuguese nationals and Hindustani.
The Portuguese women were recruited to marry unknown Hindustani men, and, in return, they would receive about five thousand euros. Afterwards, the couples were travelling to Belgium, where the Hindustani citizens tried to legalize their situation through marriage with a citizen of the Union, allowing the husbands to stay in the European Union, obtaining residence permits and, thereafter, unlawful profits with social benefits.
SEF started this investigation on 2016, after the Belgium authorities having detected a suspicious increase in the number of marriage certificates issued in Portugal that would prove to be false.
Due to the international nature of the crime, a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has been created which ended up with a Joint Action Day, carried out simultaneously in Brussels (Belgium), Lisboa and Algarve. To ease the direct operation, Belgium officers were in Portugal while a SEF team travelled to Belgium.
Europol has supported the joint operation at the coordination centre created by Eurojust. Analysts from Europol were deployed as well to Belgium and Portugal for the cross-checking of information in real time and forensic analysis of mobile phones.